Parents Say Bullying Caused Mich. Teen’s Suicide
The parents of a gay high school student from Michigan say that he took his own life last month because he faced intense and constant bullying, the Flint (Mich.) Journal/Mlive reports.
Josh Pacheco, a 17-year-old student from Fenton, Mich., (17 miles south of Flint), told his mother he was gay two months ago but committed suicide on Nov. 27 after being frequently harassed inside and outside of school, his parents say.
"My son was very funny and exceptionally sensitive and loving to other people's feelings," Pacheco's mother, Lynnette Capehart, told the Journal. "He was having problems with bullying. He didn't really want to tell us very much. It was very disheartening to me."
Capehart went on to say that officials from Linden High School, where Pacheco was a junior, never informed her that her son was having problems and was enduring bullying. The school system's superintendent, Ed Koeldo, claims harassment has never been reported to school staff.
"We weren't aware of any specifics. There's been a lot of stories that have turned up over the weekend that we are looking into," Koeldo said. He added, however, there will be new programs at the school to help students feel more comfortable about telling officials that they are being bullied.
The British newspaper the Daily Mail reports that a neighbor found Pacheco dead in his car when she went to check on the teen while he was home sick from school.
Apparently, before the student took his life, he posted a farewell quote from the "Lord of the Rings" on his Facebook in which he wrote, "I regret to announce that this is the end. I'm going now, I bid you all a very fond farewell. Goodbye." He also left a note in his vehicle that read, "I'm sorry I wasn't able to be strong enough."
According to the article, students and parents told Capehart about the bullying after her son died and said that he was pushed into lockers and teased. His mother also claims that teachers at his funeral told her that Pacheco was bullied, which contradicts Koledo's statements.
Pacheco's stepfather, Michael Capehart, said he will make sure the school takes action against the students who were involved in bullying the teen.
About 400 people attended Pacheco's funeral on Saturday and several attended a vigil held in his memory on Dec. 5.