Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since its original posting.
MILTONA, Minn. — We’ve lost another beautiful life to bullying. Lance Lundsten, 18, an openly gay student at Jefferson High School, took his life over the weekend. Friends say that Lance suffered extreme bullying and harassment for years.
Around 10 p.m. Saturday, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office responded to an emergency call at the Lundsten’s residence in Miltona, Minnesota.
When officers arrived, they discovered Lance needing emergency medical care. Lance was transported to the Douglas County Hospital where he later died.
The Sheriff’s Office confirmed to KSAX-TV that they believed Lundsten’s death was a suicide. The Sheriff would not confirm the nature of the medical emergency.
According to KSAX, Lundsten had revealed on Facebook that he was openly gay, and some students at his high school said he was bullied for his sexual orientation.
Lance’s friends have created a new facebook group after the news of his death, called the “Jefferson Anti-Bully Coalition.”
Even if his school didn’t help Lance survive the bullying, the group of friends is pushing to do their part. The page reads “Here to stand up for everyone who needs defending. The school’s staff isn’t protecting us, it’s up to the students to help each other.”
Friends have also set up a memorial page for Lance on Facebook.
No word yet from Jefferson High School, where sexual orientation is not included in the school’s “anti-bullying” handbook.
Update, January 18, 2011: Lance’s father called KSAX-TV and said he received a call from the coroner saying Lance had an enlarged heart and died of a coronary edema. Lance’s father said he believed it was not a suicide.
He also believed there were no signs of drugs or alcohol in his son’s system, but the toxicology report has not been finished, according the medical examiner’s office. The medical examiner’s office also said they had no comment about the phone call to Lance’s father.
Update, January 19, 2011: The preliminary findings in the autopsy performed on Lance showed the teen did not die from an enlarged heart, according to Douglas County Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Spanbauer, reports KSAX-TV.
The teen’s heart was slightly enlarged, but that finding was a secondary finding to an undetermined cause, according to Spanbauer. It is not yet known what actually caused Lundsten’s heart to slightly swell, as the final autopsy report was still in progress.