According to his family, the 12-year-old boy died by suicide last week after being bullied by his classmates. His parents also said that the classmates reportedly told the boy that he would go to hell because he was gay. The 7th grader was described by his family as someone who wasn’t afraid to be himself. The mother also said that her son occasionally cried about what he endured. But, his family did not realize the extent to which he suffered from trauma.
The 12-year-old boy from Tennessee, Eli Fritchley, took his own life on November 28. “He was peaceful” his mother, Debbey Fritchley, who found her son’s lifeless body in his bedroom on Sunday said, according to reports.
The 12-year-old boy attended Cascade Middle School, played the trombone in a marching band, painted his fingernails, and liked to wear pink. His mother said that before his suicide, her son did not give the impression that he took the bullying to heart.
“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.” the mother said.
The boy’s schoolmates apparently seized on his sweater that he wore almost daily. His classmates also teased and bullied the boy for his stylistic choices, his mother said.
“I think probably because he was in the same clothes every single day that they used that as a weapon. He was told because he didn’t necessarily have a religion and that he said he was gay that he was going to go to Hell. They told him that quite often. And words hurt.” she said.
The mother also said that her son occasionally cried about what he endured. But, his family did not realize the extent to which he suffered from trauma.
“It was really abusive. I don’t think it was ever physical. I think it was just words, but words hurt. They really hurt. That image was terrible until we got to hold him yesterday. We all failed him. We all failed him.” his father, Steve Fritchley, said.
It’s not immediately clear what measures the school took in combatting the bullying that Eli was regularly subjected to during class.
“We are going to come up with some sort of antibullying program through this GoFundMe Page where I pray to God this will not happen again.” said Rob and Shondelle Lewis, who launched the fundraiser.
The Lewises said that since they posted their message, they have been inundated from well-wishers offering their support.