WELLSVILLE, Ohio — An Ohio teenager was in a coma Friday in the intensive care unit at Akron Children’s Hospital, a week after he tried to end his own life.
Austin Rodriguez, 15, a student at Wellsville High School, told his parents last Thursday that they “didn’t know what was going on his personal life.” The next evening, according to his mother Bonnie Rodriguez, Austin told her he had taken more than 120 pills of his own medication and then collapsed on the kitchen floor.
“They were hiding his gym clothes because they didn’t want him changing in the locker room with them,” she said. “They didn’t want him to eat by them, or in the school lunchroom. The night before this happened he said that we didn’t know what was going on in his personal life, and we let him know that we were more than willing to listen to anything that he had to say,” Bonnie Rodriguez said.
“Absolutely nothing was going through my head, and everything at the same time,” she said.
Rodriguez said Austin is openly gay, a loving son and good person, and with whom she has an honest relationship. But his mother admitted that she didn’t know how badly kids were bullying him.
“Until friends came out of the woodwork saying ‘we knew Austin was going through this, we thought he was handling it a lot better, we didn’t know what to do’,” she said.
Wellsville Schools Superintendent Richard Bereschik said the case involving Austin Rodriguez is currently undergoing an administrative review, and declined to discuss details. He said once the review is complete, school officials will follow the bullying policy in place.
Bonnie Rodriguez said she wants to work with the administration and get her message out to all school districts in the area.
“If I would have known anything, then I would have done something,” she said. “Parents, talk to your kids. Teachers, talk to your kids. You know, we’re the adults, we need to teach them.”
The school does not have a gay-straight alliance, but principal Linda Rolley said adding one might be considered among changes she’ll make in response to the administrative review of what contributed to the suicide attempt.
It’s too soon to tell if Austin will completely recover, he remains in critical condition at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Doctors said they’re keeping him heavily sedated because of damage to his lungs, but his mother said she plans to fight for him no matter what.