Quaden Bayles’ mother has revealed what happened to her young son on the day he came home from school crying that he wanted to die.
Last month, Yarraka Bayles filmed nine-year-old Quaden, who lives with a common form of dwarfism, crying in the car telling her: “Give me a knife – I want to kill myself”.
He had just been bullied by a group of students, but urged her not to make a scene, leaving her feeling “helpless”.
The emotional video, which she posted to Facebook, then went viral around the world, sparking an outpouring of support for the boy from celebrities, sportspeople and the public, and bringing attention to the potentially devastating effects of bullying.
“This was Quaden’s third week back at school. He missed the first week due to a family funeral in Sydney,” she told NITV in an exclusive interview with The Point on Wednesday.
“We’d just come back to Brisbane and we’d been working with the hospital and the school to get him back into school.”
Ms Bayles said Quaden missed a lot of school last year due to a decline in his health, and hadn’t felt like going in on that particular Wednesday, but she then got a call from the principal.
“We actually got a call at around midday from the principal and she said Yarraka, we noticed Quaden’s not at school today, but the Bullets will be in this afternoon and they’ll be on the basketball court with Quaden’s team around 2 o’clock if you’d like to bring him in,” she said, referring to Brisbane’s NBL team.
“Being the sports fanatic that Quaden is, he was ready and wanted to go to school to see the Bullets. He loves the basketball.”
But when Ms Bayles went to pick him up later that afternoon, she noticed her son looking uncomfortable.
“We saw the class playing on the basketball court with the guys from the Bullets,” she said.
“As they were lining up to get their Bullets jerseys or singlets signed, I noticed Quaden in the middle of the line and a group of girls around him.
“Apparently there was a new student who wasn’t aware of Quaden’s condition and she’d been making remarks ongoing and Quaden just had had enough at that time.
“When me and my daughter witnessed that – just the patting him on the head and a couple of other little girls making references to his height and laughing about it – he was very uncomfortable.
“I could see the look on his face, and I know that look very well because it’s a regular occurrence for him.”
Ms Bayles said she had wanted to speak to the girls, but Quaden asked her not to make a scene.
“As soon as we got in that car, about 15 minutes after the incident, he just broke down. It just affected him,” she said.
“Patting someone on the head can be quite dehumanising,” she added.
“It’s almost like you think they’re an animal or a novelty – they’re not quite human.”
Ms Bayles said she had no regrets about sharing the video of Quaden online, which also helped raise awareness of his condition.
“It was a video that I shared in the heat of the moment. It was a plea for help and that’s been answered,” she said.
“From one little boy’s story, we’ve covered so much ground … I’m proud to be able to say, that’s my son,” she added.
After the video, Quaden was invited to lead the Indigenous All Stars onto the field at the NRL Indigenous All-Stars vs Maori Kiwis match at CBus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.
US comedian Brad Williams also raised more than $700,000 through a GoFundMe page to send him to Disneyland, though Quaden now wants that money to go to charity.
“Give it away to the homeless,” he told NITV.
“So they can buy their food and do all their shopping for their food and make sandwiches.”
The little boy also had an important message for bullies.
“If you see someone different, don’t be rude, just smile and say hi,” he said.
“It’s not nice when you say these rude things to other people.
“It would be good if they knew about other people who have diseases and things, and just be kind.”
A statement provided to NITV from Quaden’s school said they were working to support the family.
“The department and school continues to support and work with the family of the student involved in the video, and is addressing the wellbeing of the student as a matter of priority.”