Fort Smith Pediatrician Raising Awareness For Bullying After Patient Commits Suicide

ARKANSAS (KFSM)-- After 11-year-old Blaine Williams from Mulberry recently committed suicide, his family and pediatrician joined together to raise awareness for bullying and suicide.

"He was just a happy, go-lucky 11-year-old boy who liked to fish and hunt," Blaine's mother, Angelia said. "He liked to play jokes on everybody."

The Williams family is heartbroken after losing their son. Blaine was a kid who loved to help everyone, despite being bullied.

"It's the most terrible thing that's ever happened," Blaine's father, Carl Williams said.

After Blaine's death, his mother was cancelling appointments and called his long-time pediatrician, Dr. John Whitaker.

"I had never in almost 30 years in practice had a kid commit suicide before," Dr. Whitaker said. "It's bothered me and continues to bother me. I can't help but think perhaps we had asked the questions at the right time, that it might've made a difference."

The Williams received a letter in the mail from Dr. Whitaker, who pledged to change his methods of identifying bullying with his patients.

"He is a caring person and he's one that you believe there's still good people in the world," Angelia said. "Everyone kind of shies away when they find out your son committed suicide. They are afraid it's going to knock on their door, so they don't want to talk to you about it."

But Dr. Whitaker does want to talk about it, and he's working to help other kids in memory of Blaine.

"We're certainly stepping up our surveillance here for bullying," Dr. Whitaker said. "We have literature available, we're going to have more literature available and we're wearing our bracelets."

The bracelets say, "Band Against Bullying" and more than 1,800 have been given out.

"Our children should not have to go to school and worry themselves to death because that's what our son did," Angelia said. "He didn't see any way out."

"It's a terrible thing and you just don't want it to be for nothing," Dr. Whitaker said. "You want to do something so Blaine didn't die for nothing and all those other kids that are bullied and what they've gone through wasn't for nothing."

Dr. Whitaker's office is collecting donations in memory of Blaine. Those donations will be given to bullying charities.

Dr. Whitaker will also match the amount of money given to help raise awareness about bullying and suicide.

If you know someone who needs help, you can call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.