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El Paso LGBTQ teen Nex Benedict died by suicide, medical examiner says

By Kiara Alfonseca

March 13, 2024, 3:00 PM

El Paso 16-year-old Nex Benedict died by suicide, according to an autopsy report released Wednesday by the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Benedict, a member of the 2SLGBTQ communitydied one day after getting into a physical fight with several other students at Owasso High School.

Benedict was nonbinary and went by they/them pronouns, according to Benedict's family. 2SLGBTQ includes Two Spirit, an umbrella term used to describe a third gender in Native and Indigenous communities. Sue Benedict, their mother, is a registered member of the Choctaw Nation.

PHOTO: Nex Benedict, 16, died one day after a physical altercation with other students in their Oklahoma school.
Nex Benedict, 16, died one day after a physical altercation with other students in their Oklahoma school.Courtesy Sue Benedict

Anti-LGBTQ bullying and violence have been the center of conversation in the aftermath of Benedict's death earlier this month, as Benedict's family called for action and answers concerning the bullying they say Nex faced in school.

"The Benedicts know all too well the devastating effects of bullying and school violence, and pray for meaningful change wherein bullying is taken seriously and no family has to deal with another preventable tragedy," the family said via their attorney in a statement to ABC News.

LGBTQ+ youth are at greater risk for poor mental health, bullying and violence than their non-LGBTQ+ peers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which encourages schools to implement supportive policies and practices for students who will in turn experience better health outcomes.

LGBTQ students are also more likely to seriously consider suicide or attempt than their non-LGBTQ peers, the CDC reports.

The Department of Education has opened an investigation into Owasso Public Schools following a complaint from the Human Rights Campaign related to such concerns.

"Bullying in any form is unacceptable," the district said in a past statement. "We take reports of bullying very seriously and have policies and procedures in place to address such behavior."

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

ABC News' Tesfaye Negussie contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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