After classmates teased him about how he looked and told him he’d go to hell for being gay, a seventh-grader in Tennessee killed suicide.
Eli Fritchley committed suicide on November 28. He attended Bedford County’s Cascades Middle School. According to local TV station WKRN, he played trombone and was a member of the school’s marching band.
Fritchley, according to his parents, was not afraid to be himself. “He didn’t care, or at least we thought he didn’t care,” his parents told the source. “That’s what’s really terrible for us because we thought he didn’t care.”
Fritchley loved to be free and paint his nails, and his favorite color was pink, according to his parents. He was also a big Spongebob fan, according to his parents.
“I think probably because he was in the same clothes every single day that they used that as a weapon,” Fritchley’s mother, Debbey, told WKRN. She said Fritchley loved doing laundry though.
“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,” Debbey added.
Though his parents knew he was experiencing bullies at school they say they didn’t know the magnitude of how Fritchley was feeling.
“It was really abusive. I don’t think it was ever physical. I think it was just words, but words hurt. They really hurt,” his father, Steve, told WKRN.
“This has just blindsided us. This is something we would have never, ever expected.”
Debbey said he was loved more than he realized, but he was still failed.
“We all failed him. We all failed him. It’s as simple as that,” she said.