HEARD COUNTY, Ga. — The Heard County Sheriff’s Office and the Heard County School District said an investigation is underway into claims of bullying and “other events” leading up to the suicide of 15-year-old Austin McEntyre on Nov. 6. McEntyre was a freshman at Heard County High School.
On Nov. 4, Austin’s mom Lisa McEntyre said her son claimed he was sick and said he didn’t want to go to school. Lisa said she questioned him and was about to make him do a nasal swab to test for COVID-19 when he finally admitted he wasn’t sick.
“I specifically said, 'Will you please be honest with me?' And he said, 'I’m being bullied at school.' I said, 'Ok, what exactly have they been doing?' 'Well Wednesday, they did what’s called pantsed me.' Well, this particular time they pantsed him with his shorts and underwear,” Lisa explained.
Lisa said she immediately called the principal who assured her he would be looking into the matter. Lisa said she learned that afternoon the incident was being addressed and those involved were being dealt with, according to the school’s disciplinary guidelines. Lisa thought to herself things were on the up and up. She talked to Austin about the incident but said he was a little reluctant to give a lot of detail about how badly he was being bullied outside of this one incident on Wednesday.
Lisa said on Saturday, the two had a great afternoon once Austin got home from work. The two went for a walk on their property and talked about things. She said Austin brought up that at one point, he didn’t feel he had many friends. Lisa said she was surprised by the statement and reassured him that he did. However, Lisa said the statement along with what happened earlier in the week made her ask Austin if he would ever commit suicide to reassure herself and she said he immediately without hesitation said “No.”
Lisa said the two had a relatively normal Saturday night. She went to bed. Austin stayed up for a while. She said on Sunday morning, she went to work and called Austin at 9:26 a.m. Lisa said the two talked briefly and she told him she loved him and would see him in a little while. She said Austin told her he loved her, too.
It would be the last phone call between Lisa and Austin. Lisa said as her shift ended she noticed she had two missed calls. It was the Heard County Sheriff’s Office. She said they were looking for Austin after they were notified he might be trying to harm himself. Lisa said she couldn’t get home fast enough.
Lisa said she knew when she got to her home, pulled down the driveway and saw the deputies that something bad happened to Austin.
“I said, 'He’s gone isn’t he?' And he shook his head 'yes'... I just completely lost it,” Lisa explained.
Lisa said she’s since learned the extent of what Austin was going through and hiding from her and everyone this whole time.
The Heard County School Superintendent sent 11Alive a statement regarding Austin’s death and claims of him being bullied:
The Heard County School System is heartbroken over the loss of one of our high school students, Austin McEntyre. There is an ongoing investigation into the claims of bullying as well as other events which have been brought to light by law enforcement. The school system has a policy in place, as required by law, which prohibits bullying. Students have many resources in which they can reach out for help if they are experiencing bullying or witness bullying.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of this young man, and high school officials have been in close communication with the family regarding this manner. Grief counselors and local pastoral staff have been available at the high school for students and faculty as they navigate this difficult time.
The Heard County Sheriff’s Office said, “We are investigating a self-inflicted gunshot wound from a student at Heard County High School. We are looking for reasons behind the incident.”
Lisa said she now wants to make sure no other family has to endure the pain of losing a child due to bullying.
“We want to honor him, and make a statement that this bullying can’t continue,” she explained.
Lisa also wanted to get a message out to students, not just in Heard County, but anywhere when it comes to just being nice.
“I want kids to be kind and compassionate and inclusive of everybody. They don’t need to isolate kids and make them feel like they’re not worth something,” she said.
Lisa hopes if anyone finds themselves in a situation like her son, they’ll reach out for help.
“People are wanting and willing to listen and help. Don’t ever feel like you’re ever carrying this whole world on your shoulders alone. You’re not,” she said.