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Washington (State)

Family, friends hold vigil for bullied gay teen who committed suicide

Sunday, February 5, 2012

CASHMERE, Wash. — Family and friends gathered for a candlelight vigil on Friday evening to remember 14-year-old Rafael Morelos, who hanged himself on Sunday, Jan. 29. Rafael was openly gay, and friends said he was bullied because of it.

Rafael Morelos

Rafael’s mother, Malinda Morelos, said said she did not know that her son was bullied until students at another vigil earlier in the week told her.

“Almost all the kids here told me he was being bullied,” Morelos told the Wenatchee World.

Morelos said she had known for several years that her son was gay, but that he kept his feelings to himself — she said she she had no idea what he was going through.

“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.

Classmates “would bully him and cuss him out, and just hated on him all the time,” another friend, Jessica Fisk, told KCPQ-TV. “They would follow him and try to beat him up and try to hurt him.”

Rob Cline, principal at Cashmere Middle School, said that there was no ongoing investigation into Rafael being bullied at the school, but acknowledged that Rafael has reported an incident earlier in the year and that “we investigated and took appropriate action.”

In a statement issued Friday, the Cashmere School District said they were deeply saddened by the loss and their thoughts and prayers were with Morelos’ family.

The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case and determined that it was a suicide and there was no foul play involved.

Rafael’s death is the fourth reported suicide in January among gay teens that has been attributed in part to anti-gay bullying.

On Jan 1, Jeffrey Fehr, 18, hanged himself at his family’s home in Granite Bay, Calif.; on Jan. 20, Tennessee teen Phillip Parker, 14, was also found dead, the victim of an apparent suicide — his parents said Phillip was constantly bullied because he was gay.

And on Jan. 11, Eric James Borges, an intern at The Trevor Project also took his life — EricJames, as he was known, was repeatedly bullied, tormented and terrorized for most of his life. His religious-extremist parents chose not to attend his memorial.

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37 more reader comments:

  1. too sad in 2012 to see this continue…

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:03pm
  2. so sad

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:03pm
  3. When will it end?????? So sad.

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:05pm
  4. piccolo, so upsurd in 2012

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:07pm
  5. So sad!!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:07pm
  6. Very sad.

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:07pm
  7. really sad this really has to stop

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:08pm
  8. thats just sad and wrong :(

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:08pm
  9. This is incrediby sad people can’t be themselves without being bullied.

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:09pm
  10. Awww ): bullyin really needs to end.. This is so sad.

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:10pm
  11. Stop the Violence!!! :_ (

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:11pm
  12. Stop the Violence!!! :_ (

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:11pm
  13. So Sad :(

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:12pm
  14. This is an epidemic. I hear about way too much.

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:13pm
  15. Stop this madness, it makes me sad.

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:13pm
  16. Why is this STILL happening?!?!

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:15pm
  17. This breaks my heart. Please, please enough already!!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:16pm
  18. its messed up… i just came out and some how the whole school found out… and they treat me like I’m a peace of dirt… I’m in cheer and i wouldn’t think some of my friends that I’ve had since i was three and we started gymnastics would treat me like this… its wrong and immoral… I’m just lucky enough to have a great family who has been helping me through it… that boy hits a spot that supremely sore for many out kids that get bullied…

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:18pm
  19. WHY are WE not getting this STOPPED?? The TALENT we are losing makes me sick!

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:18pm
  20. I’m in Middle School now, and when I came out to one person, everyone found out. I have to deal with peoples criticism often, but at the end of the day I’m proud of who I am.

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:21pm
  21. We have to make i stand.our gay youth look at us to protect them and all we do is light a candle.we have to protect our selves under any means nessisary if were in that position to do so.i grew up with a father formaly in the kkk ‘m’

    that scared me but mosty i wanted to end my life because of the way we are labled assexual

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:22pm
  22. Would anyone happen to know when Day Of Silence is this year?

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:23pm
  23. Another young life cut short

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:24pm
  24. Stephanie, keep your chin up and be proud of who u are

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:25pm
  25. deviance in schools i dropped out and now i do something about it

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:29pm
  26. AGAIN?! AGH!

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:33pm
  27. So sorry to hear this :’-< My heart goes out to his loved ones.

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 7:56pm
  28. Please people we are losing our youth. We have to stop this violence. The parents of these kids that bullying need to be accountable! Lord please stop this!

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 8:12pm
  29. Again?

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 8:14pm
  30. i only pushed ‘like’ because of friends and family’s candelight vigil- very cool- this should not happen to any one!!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 8:31pm
  31. This is horrible. I still can’t believe why people act so cruely because of sexual orientation. I am gay and proud of it, no one is going to steal my joy. I was a victim of bullying all through middle and high school. Being made fun of and called a faggot daily made things very hard. I turned to drugs to cope for 3 years and although I never contemplated suicide, I was slowly killing myself through my actions. I finally got the courage to be happy in my own skin and cleaned my life up. I am openly gay and am respected by most everyone I know except for the idiot once in a while who has something ignorant to say. My point is..we need to teach people to be happy with who they are because sadly I doubt the bullying is going to end. I am devastated every time I hear a story like this and really wish there was a way to talk to these kids to help them get past the bullying and hate before they take their own life. I wish there was a way to make everyone tolerant of others differences.

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 8:53pm
  32. We have the DARE programs we need tollerance programs.

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 9:24pm
  33. Conflict resolution skills.

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 9:25pm
  34. These victems need safe people and places for support.

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 9:27pm
  35. dios bendiga hermano. mucho triste!

    Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 10:19pm
  36. As a parent I would be appalled and shamed if my children were bullies!

    Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 at 1:43am
  37. I hope he didn’t get aids blood all over.

    Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 at 3:14pm