JOSHUA — The parents of three local children who committed suicide — at ages 15, 13 and 9 — held a vigil in Joshua Tuesday night, appealing to the public to prevent more tragedy.
Five-year-old Dooley Lance greeted the News 8 crew as soon as we arrived at the ceremony.
"This is my brother Montana," he said, clutching a photograph. "He's in heaven right now with baby Maverick."
That remark was soon calmly followed by this: "My brother hung himself in the nurse's bathroom."
Dooley repeats the facts of his big brother's death to friend and to stranger alike. "It's part of his trying to grasp and understand," said Debbie Lance, Dooley's mom.
"Sometimes the bullies beat you up, [and you] hang yourself," Dooley said, as if repetition can ease the horror of what happened at an elementary school in The Colony last January.
"I think what Dooley is trying to say is, he misses his brother very much," Debbie Lance said, but the youngster immediately corrected her.
"No; tell them my brother hung himself," Dooley said.
Montana Lance was just nine when he killed himself. He had been bullied for years; a little boy desperate for acceptance, shattered by other children's rejection.
His mom said he felt like he had no place to go.
On Tuesday night in Joshua, the Lance family joined two other local families who have lost children to suicide: 15-year-old Hunter Layland of Cleburne and 13-year-old Jon Carmichael of Joshua. Their families say their sons were also mercilessly bullied.
"You know, I have to just go on and do what's best for this one, and try and remember and help other children," Debbie Lance said.
This week, Dooley would have started kindergarten, but his parents are home-schooling him for now. They know what's out there, and they're not yet ready for him to face it.