BRISBANE: A video of a nine-year-old Australian boy crying and saying he wants to end his life because of bullying has attracted an outpouring of support worldwide since it was posted on Tuesday (Feb 19).
In the livestreamed video by his mother Yarraka Bayles, Quaden Bayles sobs in the background as his mother relates how she witnessed him being bullied by a classmate in school.
In the video, Quaden can be heard saying that he wants to stab himself in the heart, and that he wants someone to kill him.
"I want people to know — parents, educators, teachers — this is the effect that bullying has. This is what bullying does. So can you please educate your children? Your families, your friends?" pleads his mother.
"You wonder why kids are killing themselves?"
Ms Bayles also said that Quaden has attempted suicide multiple times because he is "sick of the bullying ... every single day that he attends school or is in public".
As of 4pm on Friday, the video had been viewed more than 17 million times.
"PATTING HIM ON THE HEAD LIKE A LITTLE PUPPY"
According to NITV News, Quaden was born with achondroplasia, more commonly known as dwarfism.
His mother told NITV News that Quaden was "hysterical" after being bullied at his school in Brisbane.
On the day of the incident, basketball team Brisbane Bullets were visiting Quaden's school.
As Quaden and his schoolmates lined up to get their singlets signed by the team, his mother saw one of Quaden's classmates "patting him on the head like a little puppy" and "making references to his height".
"My daughter and I looked at each other and we made signals to him to ask if you are right, and he was like 'no' and he was looking at me horrified, like 'don't make a scene mum'," Ms Bayles told NITV News.
"You could tell he was very uncomfortable but he was so good at trying to shrug things off. He doesn't want people to know how much it's affecting him, he's so strong and confident but it's times like these when you just see him crumble. It was just heartbreaking to watch, it made me feel helpless."
Ms Bayles said that Quaden first attempted suicide at the age of six after his grandfather died, and has made "constant attempts since, with some very close calls," reported NITV News.
OUTPOURING OF SUPPORT
Since the video went public on Tuesday, Quaden has attracted the attention of people worldwide, including celebrities who reached out to encourage him.
"Quaden - You are stronger than you know," actor Hugh Jackman said in a video on Twitter. "No matter what, you've got a friend in me."
"Everyone, let's please be kind to each other. Bullying is not okay, period. Life is hard enough. Let's just remember: every person in front of us is facing some kind of battle, so let's just be kind," said Mr Jackman.
Actor Jon Bernthal of The Walking Dead fame told Quaden that his family has learned a lot from him.
"You have inspired us and in our home you are a hero. Thank you for your courage, stay strong the world is watching and you have so much beautiful power."
Fellow The Walking Dead actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan said that he knows from his experience as a father that "kids can be horrible".
"What I want you to know is that you have friends, me included. I am your buddy," he said in a video on Twitter.
"You have a bunch of friends out here, out in the world that you haven't met yet. We're here, we got your back. You need to know that. It'll get better."
Quaden has since been invited by rugby team The Indigenous All Stars to lead their team onto the field for the National Rugby League All Stars game on Saturday.
A #StandForQuaden movement has sprung up, with supporters encouraging attendees of the game to stand at the 9-minute mark to applaud Quaden.
A GoFundMe campaign to send Quaden to Disneyland has also been organised by supporters of Quaden. It has since raised more than US$167,000 - far beyond its initial goal of US$10,000.
Mr Brad Williams, who started the campaign, said that any excess money - after paying for the flights, hotel, tickets and food for Quaden and his mother - will be donated to anti-bullying and anti-abuse charities.
However, Quaden's mother warned in a Facebook post on Friday that fake campaigns have also sprung up, and that Mr Williams' campaign is the only one that has been authorised by them.