Police say they are unaware that bullying was a factor in the January 29 suicide death of 14-year old anti-gay bullying victim Rafael Morelos. A vigil honoring Morleos was held Friday night in his hometown of Cashmere, a small town of 3060, near Wenatchee, in north central Washington state.
Dee Riggs, a reporter at the Wenatchee World, writes that Sheriff Brian Burnett of the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office “investigated the case and determined that it was a suicide and there was no foul play involved.”
“You’re the first one who ever indicated to me that he had been bullied,” Burnett told Riggs via telephone.
Lt. Maria Agnew said earlier this week that bullying “did not come up in the investigation and there is no evidence that would support that right now.”
She said the investigation is closed. Burnett said it would only be opened if the school or family presented evidence of bullying.
Malinda Morelos, mother of Rafael Morelos, shares her concerns about bullying at the candlelight vigil.
Rafael’s mother, Malinda Morelos, said during an interview Thursday afternoon that she did not hear that her son was bullied until a candlelight vigil Tuesday near their home on Eels Road in Cashmere.
“Almost all the kids here told me he was being bullied,” she said. “There were at least 100 people at the vigil.”
She said her son kept his feelings to himself and “he pretended everything was OK.” She said she has known her son was gay for several years.
She said Rafael left a short note before he died that said, ‘Sawwy, guys, but I love you guys.”
At the vigil, Malinda said her son, “sometimes acted strong but, inside, he was dying little by little.”
Riggs also notes:
“He told me he got shoved and punched in the face in PE in the locker room at Cashmere,” said Lexii Mullin of Wenatchee, a friend of Rafael Morelos.
“He was tired of people saying that his little brothers would follow in his footsteps and be gay too,” said Maranda Blankenship of Wenatchee.
Q13 News, which has a video report, adds:
Last year, the state ordered school districts to toughen their policies when it comes to online bullying.
That move came after state education officials said nearly 15,000 students were suspended because of bullying in the 2008-2009 school year.
On February 1, the Washington state senate voted to approve a same-sex marriage bill. One senator was especially expressive in his comments opposing the bill, claiming it would “create a hostile environment for those of us who believe in traditional marriage.” Republican Senator Dan Swecker also added same-sex marriage would “lead to the silencing of those who believe in traditional marriage.”
Morelos is the fourth anti-gay bullying teen to die by suicide this year that we know of. Sadly, no doubt there are many more. Earlier this year, Phillip Parker of Tennessee, Eric James Borges and Jeffrey Fehr, both of California, all succumbed to suicide after anti-gay bullying this year.
The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Call them 1-866-488-7386. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and visit stopbullying.gov, and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) website for more resources.
Hat-tip: LGBTQ Nation
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