Eli Fritchley (right) killed himself because he couldn’t bear the bullying from schoolmates, his mother Debbey Fritchley (middle) believes (Picture: Debbey Fritchley)
A 12-year-old boy killed himself because he couldn’t stand the ‘pain and torture from the mean kids in his school’ bullying him for being gay, his parents believe.
Elias ‘Eli’ Fritchley was found dead by his mother Debbey Fritchley in his room after appearing to take his own life on November 28.
Debbey said that the seventh grader 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.’
The mother added that her son would paint his nails and wear the same SpongeBob sweatshirt but did his laundry daily.
‘I think probably because he was in the same clothes every single day that they used that as a weapon,’ Debbey said.
Eli told his parents that he was bullied but they were not aware of the extent of the abuse. Debbey said they never imagined 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. ‘But words hurt. They really hurt.’
School district officials stated they were ‘shocked’ and ‘devastated’ by Eli’s death and plan to work with the Fritchleys on improving ‘social and emotional learning’ on their campuses.
A GoFundMe account was set up to start a foundation that will be dedicated 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’.
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