GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - The family of a North Pitt High School student who committed suicide is saying it was a result of bullying at the school.
Jeffrey Hulon Jr. was 17 years old.
His family said Jeffrey had endured years of bullying at North Pitt. He'd spent a year there, then his family moved away to where he could go to South Central High. However, they ran into financial hardship and he had to return to North Pitt. He told them it would be fine, that the bullying would stop. They believed it had. Monday, they say, they learned it hadn't.
His father, Jeffrey Hulon Sr., had gone out to get the family dinner. When he returned, Jeffrey was nowhere to be found.
"So I knew I needed to go look for him, see where he was. Only to go out the back door and see him hanging from a tree," said Hulon Sr.
The family says they'd later learned Jeffrey Jr. had been jumped and beaten in a bathroom at the school. His mother says it happened because he was trying to stop someone else from being bullied.
"A little girl was being bullied. He took his feelings aside and helped her. And what did it cause him? To get jumped in the bathroom," said Angela Hulon.
Jeffrey's family said he'd left a note, explaining that he'd been bullied. They say he'd named the people who were doing it.
"Now his sister is, look at her, she has no brother to look up to. Now she's all to pieces, and she's scared to go to school," said Angela.
His sister wrote him a note after he committed suicide. It read; "If I could go back, I would ask him if he was getting bullied, and I would try to help my brother, because I loved him so, so much." She finished by saying, "I love my brother, and I know I will make you proud big bro. I will see you one day, when it's my time to go."
His family said they want the bullying to stop, before another family has to go through what they are.
The Pitt County Sheriff's Office says they are investigating the case.
"In this incident there have been allegations made that bullying may have contributed to this young boy choosing to take his life," said Sheriff Neil Elks."It is always sad when someone takes their own life, especially when it is a person so young." He continued, saying, "We will investigate this thoroughly and then present all information to the district's attorney's office to determine if any criminal activity has occurred."
Pitt County School Officials also issued a statement. It says "Our hearts are heavy in the Pitt County School System as we look for answers regarding the death of a student at North Pitt High School. In accordance with state and federal law, we are limited in what we can say regarding specific students, however, protecting the safety and well being of all students is the top priority for all of our schools. When a student is faced with adversity, it is our hope that they will share that information with our administrators, teachers, or support staff so we can take steps to address the situation. This is a tragic event, and we will continue to cooperate with investigators and offer support to the family, students, and staff who are affected by this loss."
"Why couldn't he fit in? There was nothing wrong with him. Sweet boy. Lovable child," said Angela Hulon.
Jeffrey Jr. had celebrated his last birthday on March 4th.