Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Ohio Teen in Coma After Post-Bullying Suicide Attempt

Austin Rodriguez, 15, overdosed on prescription pills because of incessant bullying due to his sexual orientation.

Wellsville, Ohio – An openly gay 15-year-old is struggling for his life in a coma after high school bullying drove him to attempt suicide.  The Advocate reports that Austin Rodriguez, student at Wellsville High School, collapsed on the kitchen floor in front of his mother after swallowing over 100 pills because he faced concentrated ridicule and harassment for being gay.  According to WFMJ TV, Rodriguez seemed lethargic to his mother last Friday evening, and then fell at her feet to the kitchen floor from taking a massive overdose of his own prescription drug.  She rushed him to a local hospital for treatment, where doctors then helicoptered him to Akron Children’s Hospital where he remains in a medically induced coma to protect his life.  Because of the extent of the damage to his lungs from the overdose, Rodriguez is in critical condition, but his doctors are guardedly optimistic that he will recover.

His mother is appealing to the Wellsville High School administration and to other schools in the Ohio Valley to change its policies toward LGBT students like her son.  In an interview for WFMJ, Bonnie Rodriguez said she had no idea her introverted, quiet son was being bullied to the degree he was until school friends came forward “out of the woodwork” to tell her stories of fear and pain after Austin was hospitalized. In the last eight months Austin had come out to her, and she said she shares a loving, “honest” relationship with her son.  “I actually didn’t know how bad it was for him in school until he actually did this,” Mrs. Rodriguez said. “And 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.”  Mrs. Rodriguez went on to say that Austin was happy and relieved at first because coming out to her had gone so well, but later he fell into a depression she was unable to get to the bottom of.  Now she knows the bullying at school was behind much of her son’s desperation, and he was unwilling to talk about it because he didn’t want to seem weak.

Schoolmates harassed Austin cruelly, forcing an already introverted boy to feel like an outcast.  His mother told reporters the extent of the bullying her son had to endure: “It was electronic, it was face to face bullying, 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.”  Mrs. Rodriguez hopes that no other family has to undergo what hers has to face, and her calls for action are beginning to be heard.  WTRF TV reports that the Wellsville High administration is investigating the situation that led Austin to attempt suicide.  There is no Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at Wellsville High, but administrators now say they are open to the establishment of one. Students say that Austin was bullied constantly because is came out as gay.  They also say that the school is not doing enough to address the problem of anti-gay bullying.  Principal Linda Rolley is fielding their complaints as the investigation proceeds.  Meanwhile, the next few days are crucial for Austin’s physical recovery.  The culture of harassment and violence that led to this hateful outcome, however, remains intact throughout schools in the Akron area.

March 23, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bullying in schools, gay teens, GLBTQ, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, Ohio, suicide | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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