WJTV News Channel 12 - Roanoke Mother stands up against bullying after son's suicide

Roanoke Mother stands up against bullying after son's suicide

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On February 20th, 16-year-old Max Poff committed suicide.

It was a devastating end to a life that family and friends will never fully understand. However, with one life lost, Max's mother Dianna Poff hopes others can be saved.

"It's for these kids to not go through what Max went through and for no other parent to ever have to go through what I'm going through," mother Dianna Poff says.

Poff admits things weren't always perfect at home for Max, but she believes the main reason her son took his own life is because he was being bullied. She wants her son's story to serve as a painful reminder of the effect someone's words or actions can have on someone else.

 Max was a sophomore at William Byrd High School.  He was a tall and skinny boy often teased about his size, his clothes, and not being athletic.

 The topic of bullying is something Hayle Poland, School Coordinator of School Counselor Services,  says Roanoke County Schools takes very seriously. 

"We have bullying committee's within every school," Hayle Poland, Roanoke County School Coordinator of School Counselor Services says. "All of our counselors are trained through graduate programs and we have additional training typically each year."

 Poland says it's important for all students to come forward, but school leaders can't fix the problems if they don't know about it.

"We really want to encourage our students to talk to our counselors, talk to a trusted adult," Poland says. "Want them to talk until someone listens and they get the response they want," Poland says.

A Roanoke County mother is standing up against bullying after her 16-year-old son committed suicide.

Max Poff was found dead on February 20th from a gunshot wound.

"Maxx was a lover. He wasn't a fighter and it just kills me to know the pain he was going through for somebody bullying him," Max's mother Dianna Poff says.

Roanoke County Assistant Police Chief Chuck Mason says detectives heard information was being circulated through social media that suggested bullying was the mean reason for Maxx's Death.

"However, what the detectives discovered through the course of their investigation, separating rumor and gossip from facts and first-hand information, was that bullying was not a contributing factor in this tragedy," Roanoke County Assistant Police Chief Chuck Mason says.

Max was a sophomore at William Byrd High School. His mother Dianna Poff says he often came home and said he needed certain name-brand clothes and shoes so other kids at school wouldn't bully him. Poff says her family doesn't have a lot of money, but they would always do their best to get him the clothes he needed.

"I know it was the bullying more than anything because when he came and told me, but he wouldn't tell me names because he was so scared," Dianna Poff says.

However, like the Roanoke County Police Department, school officials say an internal investigation showed bullying was not the reason for Max's death.

"I want to reiterate that we take bullying very seriously at all our schools and continue to draw students' attention to the harmful aspects of bullying, including cyber bullying," Roanoke County Schools spokesperson Chuck Lionberger says. " Just last year, our own students helped update our bullying policies for the entire school system to include newer forms of bullying."

After Maxx's death, WSLS was flooded with e-mails, calls, and social media messages about different incidents of bullying happening all across our area. Max's mother says she knows her son had a lot of personal issues going on in his life and with family, but believes bullying was the main reason behind his death.

She's now making it her mission to fight back for all kids being affected by bullying.

"I don't think I'll ever heal. I know I won't. There's a hole in my heart that will never be filled," Poff says. "So I have to do something for the rest of these kids."

There is an Annual Quality Cares Charity Car, Truck, and Bike Show Benefit for Max Poff this weekend. The benefits will help pay for Maxx's funeral costs.

The event is Sunday, April 27 from 10:30 a.m.- 7 p.m. at the Vinton War Memorial.

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