GRANITE BAY, Calif. — Another gay teen, the apparent victim of anti-gay bullying, has been lost to suicide.
In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, Jeffrey Fehr, 18, hanged himself at his family’s home in Granite Bay, Calif., according to The Sacramento Bee.
Since that day, his parents, Pati and Steve Fehr, said they have searched their hearts and minds for answers.
Though Jeffrey, who was gay, had recently ended a relationship and had been treated for depression, they believe something more insidious put him on the path toward suicide. They are convinced that a lifetime of taunts and bullying contributed to his decision to take his own life.
“We will second-guess ourselves forever,” his father said. “But we do know that for years and years, people knocked him down for being different. It damaged him. It wore on him. He could never fully believe how wonderful he was, and how many people loved him.”
Jeffrey came out during his sophomore year while attending Granite Bay High School, and although he was accepted and embraced by his parents, his family said Jeffrey was the target of schoolyard bullying as early as third grade.
“He would come home from school and cry,” said older brother Tyler, 21. “He would say he felt alone, that he wasn’t accepted for the things he liked.”
By the sixth grade, classmates would call him “fag,” said Pati Fehr, and high school proved to be no haven.
“He would literally hang his head when I dropped him off,” Steve Fehr recalled. “It was just awful for him.”
Jeffrey’s downward spiral seemed to begin after he graduated high school last year and started college, reports the Bee.
At the time of his death, Jeffrey was a student at Sierra College and a member of a competitive cheerleading squad that recently won national honors.
But in the week prior to taking his life, Jeffrey reportedly drove to Los Angeles to visit his boyfriend — when he returned, he told his parents they had broken up.
Friends and family speculate that his breakup may have been “the last straw” for a young man who never felt fully accepted.
More at The Sacramento Bee.