Bullies blamed after suicide of 'Emo' music fan

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The Independent Online

A teenager who followed the music and fashion movement known as Emo killed himself after being bullied "because of his style", his friends said yesterday.

Sam Leeson, 13, who wore black clothes and was a follower of the darkly emotional rock genre, was found hanging in his bedroom in Gloucester last Thursday.

Classmates and relatives said he was targeted online via his Bebo webpage because of his "alternative dress" and involvement with the emo scene.

Emo (which is short for emotional) music, is described as "punk with emotion", and has been made popular by bands like My Chemical Romance, whose album The Black Parade topped the charts.

Sam's mother, Sally Cope, said her son was a "huge" music fan with a taste for Emo-style bands, but that he also liked The Foo Fighters. She said: "He was into his appearance and often wore his black skinny jeans. He was an alternative dresser and I think other teenagers did make comments about that."

His oldest sister, Emma, 22, said: "We saw him as always happy and smiling but we now think there has been some name-calling about the Emo thing. We know some bullying has been going on and we are disgusted and angry about it. We do not want to attack the school as they have been very good, but we are very upset it has come to this."

Ms Cope, from Tredworth, called for social networking sites like Bebo to be more heavily vetted for malicious comments.

The suicide last month of 13-year-old Hannah Bond, from Kent, was widely linked with her being a follower of the Emo lifestyle. After her death, My Chemical Romance spoke out in defence of the genre, saying they were "anti-suicide" and pointing to the positive messages in their lyrics.

Peter Rowland, the head teacher at Severn Vale School, in Quedgeley, said Sam was a "wonderfully creative" boy who had never complained of bullying.

Two YouTube videos put together by friends in celebration of Sam's life carried a damning verdict on his tormenters. Interspersed with photos, one said: "Sam was a normal kid but because of his style he got bullied. Because of all the bullying Sam went through, it led to his death. You were a saint, Sam. We hope the bullies feel guilty for the rest of their time."

Another video, entitled R.I.P Sam Leeson and carrying pictures of the teenager as a young boy, said: "Sam was loved by everybody, don't know how anyone could bully him. Life was stolen. Bullies take a bow, coz you've taken everything else."

More than 100 goodbye messages and dozens of floral tributes were today heaped outside the gates of Severn Vale School. One read: "Miss you Sam. No one can hurt you now X."

Funeral arrangements have yet to be made.