16-year-old Channing Smith took his life after messages between him and another boy were posted online.
The family of Channing Smith are calling for justice, after the 16-year-old took his own life after explicit messages between him and another boy were posted online by another classmate.
Channing was attending the Coffee County Central High School in Manchester, Tennessee.
Some sources say that Channing identified as bisexual, but a friend of his told Buzzfeed: “He was trying to find himself and people called him bisexual but he never classified specifically as that.”
The messages were shared online on SnapChat and Instagram, reportedly by a female classmate who was friends with the boy Channing was messaging. Hours after the messages were posted, Channing took his life.
The teen was also being bullied beforehand, with a friend telling Buzzfeed that people were calling him names and telling him that ‘no one likes’ him because he “talked in a girly voice and walked with sass.”
Channing’s family are calling for justice, although not for murder charges to be brought. His older brother, Joshua, said: “We are trying to create a social media storm of exposure and awareness because we know, we want to put pressure on them to take action.
“From there we may file lawsuits civilly against whoever we can. We just want to further Channing’s cause moving forwards.
“On behalf of our family, we all agree that our first step is to find forgiveness in our hearts to the guys and girls who did this. [But] we want to see some action taken to show other kids that there are repercussions for their actions.
“We don’t think kids should be brought up on murder charges, but there is harassment and manslaughter, there are different levels that could happen.”
At a vigil held for Channing, his mother told a crowd: “Just because you think it’s cute or funny to make somebody embarrassed or humiliate them, think again. Because if someone would have realised that, my son would not be dead.”
The office for the District Attorney, Craig Northcott, released a statement saying they hadn’t yet reached a decision as to whether charges would be brought against the classmate who posted the messages online.
The statement added: “When all relevant facts are available, my office will advise the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department on what charges, if any, we believe are appropriate to help guide it in that decision.
“Any report that my office has failed or refused to act is inaccurate and I wanted to clarify this for the sake of the Smith family as they do not need the added burden to the already incomprehensible pain that they are experiencing.”
Northcott has experienced controversy in the past, after he said he wouldn’t prosecute domestic abuse cases in same-sex marriages because he didn’t believe that same-sex marriage was a valid relationship.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. You can also text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous, 24/7 crisis support in the US from the Crisis Text Line.