Tennessee teenager Channing Smith died by suicide after he was outed and bullied by classmates on social media, his grieving family have said.
The 16-year-old Coffee County High School student died on September 22, local TV station WTVF reported.
The teen’s brother Joshua said Channing confided in a few friends he was bisexual. Channing had also exchanged explicit text messages with a male classmate.
But that classmate, and another female classmate, shared screenshots of the messages on Snapchat and Instagram, Joshua explained.
“They did it to just completely humiliate and embarrass my brother,” he said.
“Being in a small, rural town in the middle of Tennessee, you can imagine being the laughingstock and having to go to school Monday morning.”
Joshua said Channing loved music and wanted to be an engineer.
“[Channing] had all these dreams and desires. Those will never be fulfilled.”
Family ‘in indescribable pain’ after Channing Smith’s death
Crystal Smith, Channing’s mother, said she blames cyberbullying for her son’s death.
“Posting one little picture can destroy somebody’s life,” she said.
“I can’t describe the pain. You can’t understand it. How somebody could be that mean to somebody just for the fun of it? It doesn’t make any sense.
“Just because you think it’s cute or funny to make somebody embarrassed or humiliate them, think again.
“Because if somebody would have realized that, my son would not be dead.”
Last week, students at Channing’s school organised a memorial rally to mourn the teen. Others also gathered at another memorial service at the weekend.
Country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus attended and performed “Amazing Grace” at the memorial.
“My heart breaks for Channing, his family, his friends and the community. Enough is enough,” Cyrus tweeted.
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
A vigil was held for 16-year-old Channing Smith tonight. The Coffee County teen committed suicide after his family says classmates outed him on social media as gay. They blame cyber bullying for his death. @WKRN pic.twitter.com/lD2C0wpB5Y
— Kim Wynne (@KimWynneWKRN) September 27, 2019
My heart breaks for Channing, his family, his friends and the community. This is the saddest story. You have to read this. Enough is enough. #JusticeForChanning https://t.co/TT99ULd8I1 https://t.co/tf3s6nGZ49 pic.twitter.com/ooPgAj1LgP
— Billy Ray Cyrus (@billyraycyrus) September 28, 2019
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