Update: Seth Walsh passed away on Tuesday afternoon, September 28. A memorial service honoring Seth will be held on Friday, October 1, at 3:30 p.m. PDT at The First Baptist Church in Tehachapi, CA. Story here.
A California boy remains in critical condition and on life support after he attempted to hang himself last week in what friends and neighbors describe as another case of anti-gay bullying.
Police and school officials are investigating the attempted suicide of 13-year-old Seth Walsh of Tehachapi, a town 40 miles east of Bakersfield.
Walsh was found Sunday, September 19, unconscious and not breathing, and it appeared he had tried to hang himself from a tree branch, according to police reports. He was rushed by helicopter to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield.
According to reports, Walsh is openly gay and was taunted by bullies for years, at school and at a local park. [KGET-TV]
Walsh attended Jacobsen Middle School last year and for only two weeks this year, before being transferred to independent study — reportedly because he had been bullied relentlessly. But school officials at Tehachapi Union School District claim there have been no reports of bullying.
“The circumstances which led to Seth’s current condition are neither his family’s nor his friend’s focus at this time,” the Walsh family said in a statement earlier this week. “Seth’s family is simply requesting respect for their privacy, positive support and prayers for Seth!”
The statement continued: “A negative action … by adults and children … will not solve or help anyone! Violence is not the answer! Please everyone, be kind and love one another!”
This is the second reported teen suicide attempt this month due to anti-gay bullying.
On September 9, 15-year-old Billy Lucas of Greensburg, IN, hanged himself at his grandmother’s home. Friends of Lucas said that he had been tormented for years based on his perceived sexual orientation.
Earlier this month, GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, announced that its 2009 survey of 7,261 middle and high school students found that at school nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school in the past year and nearly two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation.
And just days ago, in response to Lucas’ suicide, Seattle-based activist and author Dan Savage launched a YouTube channel, the “It Gets Better Project” to provide support and encouragement to LGBT teens struggling with bullying and adversity.
Editor’s note: Monetary donations to assist the Walsh family medical expenses are being accepted at Union Bank of California, the Seth Walsh Faith Fund. Donations may be sent to Jamie Phillips, c/o Seth Walsh, P.O. Box 94, Tehachapi, CA 93581. Make checks payable to Wendy Walsh.
Update: On Thursday, September 23, 13-year old Asher Brown, a gay teen in Houston, TX, came home from school while his parents were at work. He shot himself in the head after enduring what his mother and stepfather say was constant harassment and bullying. Story here.