The devastated mother of a schoolboy who hanged himself after struggling with his sexuality and daily bullying has urged others who might be in a similar situation to seek help.
Anthony Stubbs, 16, was a young dad who appeared to have everything to live for, but in January this year he was found hanging in woods near his home, with two suicide notes left inside his bag.
The teen had been struggling with bullying for many years, as well as confusion over his sexuality, and Anthony's mother Denise Machin was aware that her son was being targeted over his sexual orientation.
“He was upset but he tried not to let me see he was upset because I was forever gong in the school complaining,” Denise said.
“I said, ‘something really bad is going to happen'. Not to our Anthony, I didn’t for one minute think he’d do anything like this, but seeing his emotional side, seeing him crying and then trying to put a front up. I told the teachers and they just seemed to shrug it off.”
Despite his feelings, Denise believed that Anthony would ‘grow out’ of them, and said the family would have been accepting if he did choose to explore his sexuality.
“I just thought he needed to find himself, we weren’t the kind of family that would be against it," she said.
Despite starting a relationship with Charlotte Mason and the couple having a baby together, they still faced daily abuse about Anthony's sexuality.
“[They put up with] just awful things, but they both stuck together and they were happy. Charlotte did confront one of the bullies and I had to go into school about that. Something was supposed to be done about that and nothing was done,” Denise explained.
She added: “I think [Charlotte] did [suspect Anthony was gay] but she was blinded by love by how caring and how lovely he was to her. And he did love her but he had a secret life.”
Things became too much for Anthony and he tried to take an overdose to end his life. Later in hospital, mum Denise overheard him tell the nurses that he wanted to be with his grandmother, who had died earlier that year.
But despite pleas to go for counseling, Anthony was “too busy making sure everyone else was alright”.
Then in November 2012, Anthony went missing. Mum Denise knew instinctively that her boy wouldn’t return home, explaining: “I knew it wasn’t going to happen, he wouldn’t leave me. If he was going off somewhere he’d always leave a hint for me to find or he’d text saying, ‘I’ve gone here'.
“There was nothing, he hadn’t even been on his Facebook page, and he loved Facebook.”
In January 2013, Anthony was found hanging in woods nearby his home, with his family being forced to deal with the worst outcome.
Today, mum Denise urged anyone who is in a similar situation or is in this situation themselves to speak to someone about their problems.
If any of the issues on This Morning have affected you, please take a look at our helplines.
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