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Alabama 9-year-old's family says bullying drove her to suicide, officials are investigating

The girl's school district said it is cooperating with the police investigation of the tragedy.
McKenzie Adams
9-year-old McKenzie AdamsCourtesy of Eddwina Harris

The family of an Alabama girl who died Dec. 3 said she committed suicide after being bullied with racist taunts.

Police in the family's hometown of Linden said they are still investigating the death of 9-year-old McKenzie Nicole Adams and that there are conflicting reports of what happened leading up to it. Police also said they have not seen any reports that McKenzie was being bullied.

Adams' aunt, Eddwina Harris, told the Tuscaloosa News that the alleged bullying her niece experienced at U.S. Jones Elementary School in Demopolis stemmed from her friendship with a boy at her school.

“She was being bullied the entire school year, with words such as ‘kill yourself,’ ‘you think you’re white because you ride with that white boy,’ ‘you ugly,’ ‘black b----,’ ‘just die’,” Harris told the paper.

The family said Adams was found dead at her home by her grandmother. They told the outlet Adams died by suicide.

An official cause of death for Adams has yet to be released. Linden Police Chief Robert Alston told NBC News repeated attempts to try and obtain a copy of the autopsy report from the coroner have so far proven unsuccessful.

According to Adams' family, she was also bullied at another elementary school she attended previously, leading them to transfer her to U.S. Jones Elementary School. They told the Tuscaloosa News that the State Board of Education was made aware of the alleged incidents.

Linden School District Superintendent Timothy Thurman confirmed in a statement that Adams was a student at Linden Elementary School when she was in kindergarten. He said the child was at the school for only 22 days, and left for unknown reasons.

"There is no record of any bullying during that time and there’s no note as to why she withdrew," he said. "She transferred to U.S. Jones Elementary School in Demopolis and she’s been there ever since."

Demopolis City School System attorney Alex Braswell told NBC News in a statement that the district is "cooperating with the Demopolis and Linden Police Departments in their joint investigation of this incident" and will continue to make the district a safe place for children.

"The Demopolis City School System does extend its heartfelt wishes and condolences to the family, friends, students and teachers that have been affected by this tragedy," the statement read.

On Facebook, Jasmine Adams, McKenzie's mother, mourned the loss of her daughter, sharing pictures Monday night of the two together.

"My world is gone ... my first love #stopbullying #antibullying," Adams wrote on Facebook.

The girl's aunt, Eddwina Harris, who hosts a television show in Atlanta, said she now plans to use her platform to combat bullying.

“God has blessed me to help others with my platform, and now it’s time to help. There are so many voiceless kids,” she said. “God is opening great doors for justice for my niece.”

If you or a loved one are looking for help, please call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.