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Canadian Teen Bullied to death

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A popular Ajax teen who would have turned 14 tomorrow hanged himself at home after being viciously cyber-bullied by classmates about being gay, his stepmom says.

Sandria Gillard, 46, said Shaquille Wisdom was online with a friend being told "not to do it" minutes before he hung himself from the stairs of her Annable Lane home on Oct. 20.

"He was such a polite, well-behaved boy," Gillard said of the Ajax High School Grade 9 student. "I am confused and haven't been able to return to my home or sleep in my bed."

She and her family have been staying with a friend in Scarborough since Shaquille's death because they're too upset to return home.

Gillard said Shaquille's body was found by his sister, Adrienne, 26, who is still traumatized.

"She's still depressed and can't eat properly," she wept yesterday. "I don't know if she will ever be the same again."

News of the death surfaced yesterday during National Bullying Awareness week, established to recognize the dangers kids face physically and on the Internet.

Gillard said Shaquille, who loved school and was a popular student, wanted to be a movie producer. His problems began after he told a trusted friend he was gay.

The friend told others at school and outed Shaquille in June on websites created by students for bullying.

"They began calling him names and sending him ugly e-mails," Gillard said. "He couldn't hide from them and he didn't let others know."

Gillard, who works as a presser for a dry cleaning company and said she is not computer literate, said she didn't find out until the Oct. 27 funeral that Shaquille was being tormented at school.

"Later I was told that a friend was telling him on the computer not to do it (commit suicide)," she sobbed. "I was also told boys were taunting him at school."

She also found out that students had written e-mails, threatening him and making fun of his sexuality.

She said Shaquille was stuffed into a garbage can by students at his school just days before he committed suicide. "I am confused and looking for some answers," Gillard said. "He was right before me on the computer and next thing he's dead."

Ajax High School principal Phil Matsushita said he'd heard rumours from students about the popular student-council member.

"He didn't show any signs of being a victim,"Matsushita said yesterday.

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Frankly, this kind of ganging up should be taken a whole hell of a lot more seriously. The trouble is, you're dealing, in many cases, with parents who have exactly the same kind of mentality, and won't lift a finger to help, but will encourage the bullies.

The older I get, the less tolerant I feel, about discrimination, bullying, and all that sort of intolerance. Maybe there's something to be said in favor of stoning, caning, etc., but let it be those who are intolerant bigots who are punished.

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