CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (WLS) -- A suburban family is sharing their anguish after their 15-year-old son committed suicide because he says he was bullied. Their mission is to talk about the effects of bullying to protect other students and families from the pain they have suffered.
Students and relatives gathered in front of Crystal Lake South High School to remember 15-year-old Max Bennett Thursday. Many of them have also visited the family's home, which is filled with photos and memories of a boy who his family says always had a smile on his face. That makes his suicide all the more troubling, they said.
"I think the kids needed to see the pain of a parent when they go through something like this," said Sam Bennett, Max's father.
The sophomore shot himself in the head. His father said he left a suicide note saying he was being bullied at school and couldn't deal with it anymore.
"I'm not angry, I'm sad," said Patricia Bennett, his mother.
His mother said Max loved fishing and computers and was recently improving his grades in school. She discovered his body in the back yard Friday night.
"The children that came to our house that are his age, a lot of them are suffering the same that my son was suffering," she said.
Experts say bullying is a widespread problem; about two-thirds of all students report being bullied. It is the leading cause of teen suicide.
School district officials issued a statement, saying in part, "We take all reports of bullying seriously, investigate claims, and take the necessary action."
Jodee Blanco has written a best-selling book on the subject called "Please Stop Laughing at Me."
"If your child is being bullied, the true danger is that, one, the isolation and the loneliness will drive them to desperation," Blanco said.
Friends and classmates have set up a Facebook page in Bennett's honor to talk more about the issue of bullying. Funeral services are set for Saturday afternoon.
Crystal Lake teen committed suicide because he was bullied, family says