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Hefty Boy Who Dreaded Going Back To School Commits Suicide

August 27, 1996

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ A 12-year-old boy hanged himself rather than return to school because he was afraid classmates would tease him about his weight, family members said Monday.

Samuel Graham, who was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 174 pounds, was found Monday morning hanging by a rope from a tree in his yard, Broward County Sheriff’s deputies said.

Samuel had spoken to relatives about going to heaven to live with God and get away from the taunting, investigators said.

``It was a traumatic experience for him,″ said the boy’s father, Vincent Graham. ``He thought he was overweight _ we didn’t. He was a big-boned kid, he was naturally big.″

After visiting relatives in Jamaica for six weeks, Samuel looked better than ever, his father said. He had spent time training in his father’s hometown of Kingston with Graham’s brother, who was a track coach.

The family had tried to help the boy lose weight.

``We kept commending him. He was doing his exercises and keeping to his diet,″ Graham said.

The family last saw Samuel alive at 10 p.m. Sunday when he said prayers with his younger brothers and his father before going to bed.

The brothers saw Samuel hanging from the tree in their back yard when they awoke the next day. The boy’s father tried to revive him, but it was too late.

Investigators found a step stool and a flashlight under the tree. No suicide note was found.

``I am numb,″ Graham, a Fort Lauderdale general contractor, said. ``I don’t understand it. I can’t put it together.″

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