Parents share painful lessons, resources to help others after 12-year-old’s suicide

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — The parents of Andy Leach are still learning more about how the 12-year-old was bullied at his DeSoto County middle school. It's a painful lesson they want to share with other parents.

“When he finally came out with the information at school that he thought he may be bisexual ... He was called some horrific names from kids at school. That’s when he stopped talking to people about it," his father Matt Leach said.

His dad knows now the bullying didn’t go away.

Andy killed himself last week.

“I guess I don’t go through every paper in a backpack but when did I found disheartening things, things I could’ve done something about,” Matt Leach said.

His mom and dad are now on a mission.

“We won’t stop bringing awareness about bullying," Andy's mother Cheryl Hudson said.

Stacy Dodd with the Hope Center is also on that mission. The organization is hosting "Refuse to be a Victim" Saturday at Andy’s school, Southaven Middle.

“We are going to teach them how to respond if they're being bullied, who to reach out to, how to reach out,” Dodd said.

They’ll also teach tools for parents like Leach, who said he wished he did more.

“At the event, she teaches them about the apps there are you can track your children with. I think that is a number one resource,” Dodd said.

“Get in their business. Talk to them. Get into the details of it. Find out what’s going on. There’s help available," Leach said.

Andy’s parents agreed they couldn't save their own son now, but there are other lives where they can make an impact.

The event takes place Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. Afterward, there will be a speaker series and candlelight vigil outside Southaven Middle School from 5-8 p.m.