Eli Fritchley suicide: Tennessee 12 year old boy kill self after being bullied for being gay according to his parents.
Eli Fritchley, a 7th grader at a Bedford County school took his own life on November 28, was described by his parents as someone who wasn’t afraid to be himself.
‘He was peaceful,’ his mother, Debbey Fritchley of Shelbyville, who found her son’s lifeless body in his bedroom on the Sunday before last, told WKRN-TV.
‘He was a peaceful soul.’
According to the boy’s mom, Eli attended Cascade Middle School, played the trombone in a marching band, painted his fingernails, and liked to wear pink.
‘We thought he didn’t care…’
He also wore the same SpongeBob sweater to class almost every day.
Debbey Fritchley said that before his suicide, Eli did not give the impression that he took the bullying to heart.
‘He didn’t care, or at least we thought he didn’t care, and that’s what’s really difficult for us because we thought he didn’t care,’ she said.
But schoolmates apparently seized on Eli’s sweater that he wore almost daily.
‘I think probably because he was in the same clothes every single day that they used that as a weapon,’ Debbey Fritchley said.
Eli’s classmates teased and bullied him for his stylistic choices, according to his mother.
‘He was told because he didn’t necessarily have a religion and that he said he was gay that he was going to go to Hell. They told him that quite often,’ said Debbey Fritchley.
While Eli would occasionally cry about what he endured, his parents said they did not realize the extent to which he suffered from trauma.
‘It was really abusive,’ his father, Steve Fritchley, told WKRN-TV.
‘I don’t think it was ever physical. I think it was just words, but words hurt.
‘They really hurt.’
‘That’s been really hard,’ the boy’s father said.
‘That image was terrible until we got to hold him yesterday.
‘We all failed him. We all failed him,’
‘Now that image is gone, because the only thing we could think of yesterday when we were kissing and loving on him was how angelic he looked.’
She added: ‘He absolutely looked angelic. He’s just an angel.’
Eli’s mother says she is wracked with guilt over her son’s death.
‘We all failed him. We all failed him,’ she said.
‘It’s as simple as that.’
After their son’s passing, the Fritchleys have devoted themselves to the cause of combating child bullying.
Offered Rob and Shondelle Lewis, the proprietors of an eaterie the Fritchleys regularly visited in a GoFundMe page they helped organize: ‘We are going to come up with some sort of antibullying program through this Gofundme page where I pray to God this will not happen again.’
The Lewises said that since they posted their message, they have been inundated from well-wishers offering their support.
‘This is a growing area and I think people need to be more accepting of new people, rather they like them, rather they are the same as them, everybody’s different,’ said Shondelle Lewis.
‘Accept and respect them’
‘Accept them and respect them and parents need to focus on that with their kids more.’
A spokesperson for Bedford County Schools told WKRN-TV: ‘Cascade Middle School staff and students returning to school from Thanksgiving break received tragic news about a student suicide that occurred on Sunday night, November 28.’
Not immediately clear is what measures, if any, the school took in combatting the bullying that Eli was regularly subjected to during class.
Eli is survived by his five brothers. The family is holding a celebration of life Saturday. Everyone is encouraged to wear bright colors in his honor. An anonymous donor gave $5,000 for funeral expenses.