A young boy is believed to have taken his own life after suffering homophobic bullying by his classmates.
Elias ‘Eli’ Fritchley, 12, was found dead by his mother Debbey in his room on November 28.
The grieving mum said that the year 8 pupil at Cascades Middle School in Tennessee was not afraid of being himself or being gay.
“He was told because he didn’t necessarily have a religion, and he said he was gay, that he was going to go to hell,”’ Debbey told WKRN.
“They told him that quite often.”
She added that her son would paint his nails and wear the same SpongeBob sweatshirt but did his washing daily.
“I think probably because he was in the same clothes every single day that they used that as a weapon,”’ Debbey said.
A GoFundMe set up for the family reads: "A mother walked into her 12 year old son's room to find that he had taken his own life because he could no longer bear the pain and torture from the mean kids in his school."
Eli told his parents that he was bullied, but they were not aware of the extent of the abuse. Debbey said they never thought that it would drive Eli to kill himself.
“He didn’t care, or at least we thought he didn’t care, and that’s what’s really difficult for us because we thought he didn’t care,” she said.
Eli’s father Steve Fritchley said his son’s peers were ‘really abusive’.
“I don’t think it was ever physical. I think it was just words,” he said.
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“‘But words hurt. They really hurt.”
School district officials said they were ‘shocked’ and ‘devastated’ by Eli’s suicide and plan to work with the Fritchleys on improving ‘social and emotional learning’ on their campuses.
AGoFundMeaccount was set up to start a foundation that will be committed to ‘helping other kids and families that might be in the same situation as the Fritchley’s so that this terrible tragedy doesn’t have to happen again’.
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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