NBC 5 Investigates

Jamari Dent, Who Tried to Take His Own Life As a Result of Bullying, Dies at 13

Jamari's mother said she saved him on the night of his suicide attempt, but afterward he required round-the-clock care

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Jamari Dent, a 13-year-old Chicago Public Schools student who suffered a brain injury in 2019 following a suicide attempt after months of bullying, died Thursday, his family's attorney confirmed in a statement.

In March of 2020, NBC 5 Investigates reported that Teirra Black, Jamari's mother, filed a lawsuit against CPS, alleging her son, at 11 years old in February 2019, tried to hang himself because of the abuse he suffered at the hands of CPS staffers.

Following the suicide attempt, Jamari could neither read nor speak.

“If you would have known him, you would have loved him. He’s blind now, he’s got a trach in his throat, he has a g-tube, he can’t move, his bones in his fingers—they’re deteriorating now," Black told NBC 5 last year. 

Black says she moved her son, who has special needs from Medgar Evers school because of abuse. However, Jamari and his sister reported the ill treatment continued at their new school, Carter G. Woodson, on south Evans.

“The teacher came down and slammed his head real hard to the desk,” she said, saying Jamari told her, “she had punched me in my stomach, she had choked me.”

In Feburary of 2019, Black said Jamari begged her not to make him return to Woodson.

“He was like, ‘I don’t want to go back to that school,’” she said. “He was like, ‘I want to kill myself.’”

In Black's lawsuit, she alleges that’s exactly what he tried to do. On the night of February 18, 2019, she said her daughter’s screams brought her to Jamari’s room, where she found him hanging by a bedsheet.

“His suitcase was knocked over,” she said. “He wrapped the sheet around the towel, the hook, and I guess he stood on his suitcase and hung himself.”

Black said she saved Jamari that night, but after the suicide attempt, he required round-the-clock care.

Jon Erickson, Black's attorney, alleges he has two more cases with similar circumstances of abuse.

“This is one horrific tragic example of an insidious systemic problem at the Chicago Public Schools,” he told NBC 5 last year. “We’re talking about teacher on student bullying, and we’re talking about tacit approval of the bullying by the administration.”

In March of 2020, Erickson wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, requesting that the Department of Justice launch a formal investigation into the treatment of special needs children in CPS schools.

CPS released the following statement in response to Jamari's death:

"The Chicago Public Schools community is saddened to learn of the passing of Jamari Dent and our deepest condolences and sympathies are extended to his loved ones."

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