After a mother from Australia posted footage of her bullied son, Quaden Bayles, telling her that he wanted to kill himself, the video quickly went viral. It caught the attention of many, including 51-year-old Les Misérables star Hugh Jackman.
Quaden was bullied on account of his appearance, having one of the most common forms of dwarfism known as achondroplasia. Hugh wanted him to know that he has friends out there and that he’d personally always be his friend.
He went on to explain that “life is hard enough” without people going out of their way to hurt others. He told Quaden, “You are stronger than you know.”
In the video that Hugh Jackman posted on Twitter, he had a strong message both for Quaden and for those who choose to bully others. In the video, Jackman explained:
“Quaden, you are stronger than you know, mate. And no matter what, you’ve got a friend in me. Bullying is not okay. Period. Life is hard enough. Let’s just remember every person in front of us is facing the same kind of battle, so let’s just be kind.”
This isn’t the first time that Hugh has tried to set a good example, especially when it comes to his own children. In June 2018 he said:
“My kids have so many advantages, and I want them to know that they have a responsibility to use those advantages to help others. My kids are constantly reminded about how lucky we are in our family. We’re ridiculously blessed.”
— Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) February 20, 2020
Hugh Jackman wasn’t the only celebrity to have a few words for Quaden. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays “Negan,” a villain in The Walking Dead, also reached out to Quaden on Twitter.
“What I want you to know is that you have friends, me included. I am your buddy. You haven’t met me yet, but we’ll see if we can change that. Maybe your mom can DM me.”
He continued, “You have a bunch of friends out here, out in the world that you haven’t met yet. We’re here, we got your back. You need to know that. It’ll get better.”
Comedian Brad Williams, who also lives with achondroplasia, set up a GoFundMe that has already raised over $205,000 to send Quaden and his family to Disneyland.
I’ve set up a GoFundMe to send brave Quaden and his mother to Disneyland. Let’s show a bullied kid that he is loved! https://t.co/vGLHQXzO0K
— Brad Williams (@funnybrad) February 20, 2020
The Indigenous All Stars, an Australian rugby league team, invited Quaden to lead the team onto the field at their next match. Superstar player Johnathan Thurston even posted something special for Quaden on Instagram.
Quaden’s mother, Yarraka Bayles, posted the video of her son publicly on Facebook as an attempt to raise awareness about the effects of bullying. In the distressing video, her son pleads with his mother, asking her to “Give me a rope, I want to kill myself.”
He goes on, crying, “I just want to stab myself in the heart… I want someone to kill me. I want to die… I want to scratch myself.”
She said that she’d normally try to keep such personal moments private, but felt like she had no choice but to take things public. At the beginning of the video, she says:
“I just picked my son up from school, witnessed a bullying episode, rang the principal and I want people to know this is the effect bullying has. This is what bullying does.”
“So can you please educate your children, your families, your friends because all it takes is one more instance… and you wonder why kids are killing themselves.”
If you’re in need of help or you’d like to help others, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
The line is open 24 hours a day, and it can also be helpful to learn about the 7 signs of depression to be able to recognize whether you or others might be in need of assistance.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also has an online chat option available.