Jeff Lasater (L) came to StoryCorps with his friend Drew Cartwright to remember his teenage son Jeremiah.
At 14, Jeremiah towered over his classmates and struggled with a learning disability.
A gentle giant, he was an easy target for bullying, until he finally took his own life.
Since Jeremiah’s death in 2008, Jeff has devoted himself to preventing bullying of special-needs kids.
Click here for the transcript.
Jeff Lasater (JL): Jeremiah was a kid that was 6'6'', 320 pounds. He had a tough time growing up sometimes, I mean being awkward the way he was, and he was kinda left out a lot of ways—really enjoyed photography, football. And uh, if he thought a friend was in trouble, he walked 20 miles to find that friend, you know. I'm very proud that he was my son.
DC: He was a special needs young man, and he was being tormented by…
JL: Severely. He was actually being bullied since middle school. I constantly went to the school, tell them what was going on, and really nothing was done. Me and my wife, we talked about pulling him out, and Jeremiah didn't want to do that. So he went to high school and within a month in high school he decided that was it.
October 20, I called him on the phone, asked him if he did his chores, he said, "Yeah, I did." Said, "I love you, dad." And that's the last time I heard from him.
Two sheriffs showed up on my doorstep and uh, pretty much informed that Jeremiah killed himself with a gun, in the bathroom.
DC: He took his life during the lunch hour if I recall.
JL: Correct. That day, his glasses were destroyed, he was depantsed, food thrown on him, called a bunch of names. Just enough that he couldn't take anymore.
You know, I went into that bathroom where he committed suicide, and what really shocked me was this is the last thing that my son saw was a crapper. He must have been really distraught.
The grief never goes away. The guilt, you'll always have. I was Jeremiah's parent, I was supposed to be his protector, so I'm the one that's responsible for that action.
You know, people say, "Well time heals everything." Not when it comes to this.