BELFAST, N.Y. (WIVB) - A 16-year-old Belfast Central School student has taken his own life and his classmates have been telling his family he was subjected to bullying and harassment.
Lee Hull took his life on September 12th at his home. His mother, Roberta Hull-Joseph, said Lee "wasn't one to conform to what he didn't believe in, what wasn't in his nature." Hull-Joseph told News 4 her son was often teased about his long hair, which he eventually trimmed down to a crew cut around a year ago.
A 2009 Belfast Central School graduate, Charles Brundage, said of Lee, "He dressed a little different, acted a little different, people around here just weren't willing to let him in. They weren't accepting of him."
Lee also suffered from a skin disorder that he tried to correct through surgery and was born premature, weighing just 1.5 pounds. Lee's mother said he was small in stature, but always walked with his shoulder back.
At his wake, Hull-Joseph said Lee's schoolmates told her he was harassed all the time and that the bullying needs to stop. Hull-Joseph said, "Nothing gets done at the school."
Lee's brother, 14-year-old Tyler Joseph, said on his Facebook page, "I want to know who the .... pushed my brother into doing it."
Belfast School Superintendent Judy May told News 4, "This was a child that looked happy, we thought was having a great start of the school year. We didn't see signs that this suicide was going to occur."
In a formal statement issued from May's office, she wrote, "This has been a terrible tragedy that has affected our entire community. We take bullying and harassment very seriously. If there is any suggestion that this tragedy was related to bullying and harassment and school, we will investigate it fully. We are taking all the steps we can to support the family, students and school throughout this difficult time."
Lee left a note in his room saying that he was sorry and that he loved his family, but he did not name a reason for taking his own life.
"I just don't want this to happen to any more kids. No other parent should have to experience this. It's such a permanent act," said Hull-Joseph.
State Police consider the death to be a suicide without any criminal attachment. This is the third suicide at Belfast Central Schools since 2007.
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