It was a video that tested the resolve of even the coldest of hearts.
Footage of nine-year-old Queenslander Quaden Bayles sobbing into the camera and saying he wants to take his own life was widely shared across Australia on Thursday and prompted everything from anger to sadness and ultimately sympathy for the young boy.
His heartbreaking state was caused by relentless bullying at school, a helpless child picked on for his dwarfism.
Among thousands of responses from around the world, Ms Bayle’s video prompted one particularly emotion-driven message of support from a mother whose child also has dwarfism.
Marina Lopez Ortiz, who has dwarfism herself, said the video broke her heart “into a million pieces”.
The video caused a sensation after it was shared online, when the boy’s mother Yarraka Bayles, an advocate for indigenous and dwarfism issues, said enough was enough.
“This is the impact that bullying has on a nine-year-old kid that just wants to go to school, get an education and have fun,” the devastated mother says in the video which has now been viewed more than 10 million times on Facebook.
She pleaded for help, not knowing what to do and how to change the suicidal thoughts her son was having.
During the video, a teary-eyed Quaden glances up at the camera and asks for a knife.
“I just want to kill myself... I just want to die right now.”
‘You’re not alone’
Ms Ortiz responded to the video with a harrowing post of her own, saying it illustrates a much wider issue.
“It saddens me that people with disabilities are looked at and pointed out as different, and we have to learn how to adjust to this rough world, like it isn't hard as is... Like we had a choice,” she said.
“Instead of schools, and parents doing their f***ing job and educating on these topics! Ya'll need to start making all disabilities a topic of conversation, as well as the diversity of races.”
In a direct message to Quaden, she reassured him he is loved.
“There are mean people in this world, and I wish I could tell you it's going to stop with a snap of a finger but unfortunately I can’t.
“What I can tell you is you need to be strong, everyone may not like you but guess what? You don't need them.. Those who mind, don't matter. And those who matter, don't mind!
“It's tough, it's not easy but you're not alone. You are one of a kind for a reason! Different is unique, and you should be proud!”
“I would love to hug you so tight right now, but since I can't just know you have some more friends all the way out here in Colorado.”
The post went on to speak to Quaden’s mum directly: “keep speaking up to the school, the children need to be punished and held accountable. You're not alone though! It takes an army, and everyone is here for you guys!”
Ms Bayles later shared the powerful post on her page.
On Friday, Ms Bayles re-shared a video she took of Quaden in 2016 where he lists the insults he is bombarded with as a child.
“I don’t want them to call me bubba, baby or cute,” Quaden says in the short clip.
His mother said the same message still stands four years later.
World rallies around Quaden
The response from the nation to Quaden’s video was immediate.
Endless comments of support flooded in online, with those with a voice making their stance known.
Indigenous activist Nessa Turnbull-Roberts said Quaden was “changing the narrative for so many”.
“We are rallying with you, with love young brother. You’re not alone.”
There’s no shame in pain, and this is the result of bullying.— Nessa Turnbull-Roberts (@TurnbullVanessa) February 20, 2020
You are reaching out and changing the narrative for so many. We are rallying with you, with love young brother.
You’re not alone.
The village is here. #westandwithquaden #standtallfordwarfism pic.twitter.com/82DGoV88Aq
Filming their own video for Quaden, they made him an offer any young NRL fan couldn’t refuse.
“We just want to wish you all the best brother,” star player Latrell Mitchell says.
“We know you’re going through a hard time right now. But the boys are here and we’ve got your back. We’re here to support you bud.
“We want you around and we want you to lead us out on the weekend.”
The footage has since gone global, prompting US comedian Brad Williams, who also has dwarfism, to set up a GoFundMe page to take Quaden to Disneyland.
Setting a target of $10,000, the page soared past $115,000 on Friday.
“This isn’t just for Quaden, this is for anyone who has been bullied in their lives and told they weren’t good enough. Let’s show Quaden and others, that there is good in the world and they are worthy of it,” Williams explained.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.