In a heartbreaking Facebook Live video, nine-year-old Australian boy Quaden Bayles is sobbing to his mom behind the camera, telling her he wants to commit suicide. “Get me a knife,” he says to her. “I’m gonna kill myself.”
In the video, Quaden can’t hold back his tears after enduring yet another bullying incident at school, according to his mother, Yarraka Bayles. She allegedly had just caught one of Quaden’s classmates taunting him for his height.
The video went live on Tuesday and has since amassed over 350,000 shares and 22 million views. In it, Bayles reveals her son is a victim of constant bullying due to his achondroplasia, the most common type of short-limbed dwarfism. According to Bayles, the incessant harassment has led Quaden to look to self-harm as a means of coping.
“I’ve got a son that is suicidal almost every single day,” Bayles tells her viewers, her voice breaking.
In the video, Bayles also says that while she typically doesn’t share these kinds of difficult family moments online, this latest bullying incident was the breaking point. “We can’t do it anymore,” she states.
To spread awareness about the damage bullying does, Bayles captured her son’s tears live on Facebook.
The reaction to Bayles’s video has been largely positive. Celebrities have even reached out to Quaden and his mother with words of support.
Australian actor Hugh Jackman posted a video message on Twitter, telling Quaden “you are stronger than you know” and “you’ve got a friend in me.”
US Comedian Brad Williams, also diagnosed with achondroplasia, created a GoFundMe page for Quaden that would allow him and his family to travel to Disneyland, all expenses paid. So far, Williams has raised over $300,000 for Quaden.
The National Rugby League’s (NRL) Indigenous All-Stars team also reached out to Quaden. The nine-year-old is scheduled to lead the team out before Saturday’s NRL match against the Maori All-Stars team.
But not everybody is thrilled over the immense support Quaden has received. In fact, the viral video has attracted scrutiny.
On Twitter, users speculated that Quaden isn’t actually the 9-year-old boy he claims to be. Many accused him of actually being 18 years-old and using his appearance to “scam” donors to his GoFundMe page online.
Suspicious Twitter users point to Quaden’s Instagram account as evidence. On it, Quaden appears older than his mother says he is, due to multiple photos of him sporting high-end luxury fashion brands like Gucci, Nike, and Champion. The account also has a series of photos of Quaden posing on a what seems to be a relatively new C200 Mercedes Benz.
The speculation over Quaden’s age can be seen as a consequence of “sharenting,” known as the oversharing of a child’s information on social media at the fault of their parents or grandparents. In the case of Bayles, her decision to broadcast her son’s breakdown live and post images of him flaunting luxury wear has caused her efforts to spread awareness against bullying to somewhat backfire.
On Instagram, many users are flooding Quaden’s posts with skepticism and even hate. “I don’t buy this story,” commented user @thatdamnartpage. Another user @slattsamri commented, “I never really had any sympathy for him.”