(Reuters) - Quaden Bayles, the nine-year-old boy who in a heart-wrenching video said he wanted to kill himself after being bullied at school, had the “best day of his life” when he led out an all-star rugby league team in Australia on Saturday.
Bayles was taunted for his dwarfism and his mother had uploaded a video on Facebook earlier this week showing the youngster in tears in a bid to shed light on the effects that bullying has on young children.
“Give me a knife, I want to kill myself,” an agitated Bayles said in the video, as he sobs in the car and buries his head in the seat.
He received an outpouring of support from around the world, including encouragement from celebrities such as Australian actor Hugh Jackman, and was invited to lead out the Indigenous All-Stars rugby league team at the Robina Stadium in Queensland.
Wearing noise-cancelling headphones, Bayles held the match ball and captain Joel Thompson’s hand, leading the team out of the tunnel before their game against the Maori All-Stars, with a loud crowd cheering him on.
His mother Yarraka Bayles described the invitation as “going from the worst day of his life to the best day of his life.
“We could never have dreamt in our wildest dreams that it would’ve gone worldwide and created such a media frenzy,” she told reporters. “It’s every parent’s worst nightmare losing their babies and for me that’s my reality every day.
“That’s what I have to prepare for, the worst, because everything he is going through with his medical condition, the suicide attempts are very real and people don’t understand that.
“There are way too many people suffering in silence and my heart goes out to those families that have already lost their children to bullying.
“It’s been way too many and it’s something that needs to be addressed, it’s an international crisis and it demands urgent attention.”
A GoFundMe page set up by comedian Brad Williams, who was also born with a type of dwarfism, has collected nearly $450,000 as he looks to fly Bayles and his mother to the United States so they can visit Disneyland.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris