Seventh Grader Dies by Suicide after being told he’d go to Hell for being Gay

A seventh grader in Bedford County, Tennessee died by suicide on November 28 after he was ruthlessly bullied for being gay.

The parents of 12-year-old Eli Fritchley say his peers repeatedly told him he was going to Hell because of his sexuality.

“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,” Eli’s mom, Debbey told WHNT News.

Debbey also suspects students mocked Eli for the way he dressed. He loved pink, painted his nails, and wore the same SpongeBob sweatshirt almost daily.

“I think probably because he was in the same clothes every single day that they used that as a weapon,” Debbey said.

Eli’s dad, Steve, said he doesn’t think the students ever physically abused Eli, but that verbal abuse can be just as harmful.

“I think it was just words, but words hurt,” Steve said. “They really hurt.”

Nevertheless, Eli’s parents are shocked by what happened, as they said Eli usually brushed off the bullies.

“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,” they said.

Steve and Debbey are now working on launching an anti-bullying foundation in Eli’s honor. Rob and Shondelle Lewis, owners of the Penalties Sports Bar & Grill, where Steve and Debbey are regulars, set up a GoFundMe to help raise money.

“I hope and pray, this unfortunate event we are going to make something of it,” Rob said. “We’ve got to. We are going to come up with some sort of anti-bullying program through this GoFundMe page where I pray to God this will not happen again.”

Education, Debbey said, is key to stopping bullying. The Fritchleys hope to prevent what happened to Eli from happening to other kids and families.

“We all failed him,” Debbey said. “We all failed him. It’s as simple as that.”

10 thoughts on “Seventh Grader Dies by Suicide after being told he’d go to Hell for being Gay

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  1. No Parent should ever allow a child to be sexually diminished by claims of gender issues. If a child has a penis they are ONLY a male, and if a child has a vagina she is ONLY a female. Once a child reaches adulthood at 18 or 21 they can make choices, but not before! This is all on the parents for encouraging this poor kid to be a fool and not provide good guidance. Shame on them! Not supporting the bullies, but a boy needs to dress like a boy and not give in to idiot parents wishes they had a girl! Your are born with a Mandatory Gender – if you choose, as an adult, to fake yourself out, fine, but parents MUST encourage their kids to live in their given Gender and not fake something else.

    1. An unusually mean spirited reply during this holy season and time of grief for the parents and friends of this tormented young person.. We will pray for those grieving and for you Mr Taxman and may God enlighten the dark places in your soul.

      1. I know you think that nobody should ever hurt your feelings but in the real world that happens. The parents should have not allowed this to start “holy season” or not. May God enlighten you and parents who think they are being so open minded when they are really harming their kids.

    2. Why did the parents allow it..? That’s what really angers me. Step up be a source of. Safety. A male is a male a female is a female. Tell these confused kids. Wait till your a adult too make these anti moral decisions. Then deal with it. Not put your choice out there like a normal act and make those around you suffer everyday.

    3. There is no way I as a parent would I ever discourage the mind of my child. I would rather Support my child and listen, learn and guide that child as the parents did. The did all they could and the blood lies on the hands of the bullies. God bless you. I’m A Baptist. No more bullying!

  2. It’s a terrible thing to happen but that proves if there’s some kind of mental dysfunction in people who think that way, that they have to settle it on their own or between a therapist and themselves, but you can’t blame his death on wanting to be gay his problems go much deeper than that, if he was misaligned with his thinking to start with

  3. Beside the fact that this young boy had identity issues, I’m amazed his parents thought he wasn’t fazed by the taunting at school. That’s what really surprises me. Afterall, the kid was indeed so very affected he killed himself! Either they didn’t connect well with their child or for some other reason this shouldn’t have happened. His school peers were unthinking kids who often are very cruel. Regardless of this the parents must bear this burden. So sorry for their loss. This poor misguided boy should have been under professional help long before it got to this.

  4. Maybe this is why Jesus told the temple religious leaders of his day that they “should not judge”? Even in Old Testament times it is written in Deuteronomy 22:5-8, “There shall not be an article (keli) of a man upon a woman, and a man shall not put on a wrapper of (simlat) a woman, because everyone doing (who does) these (things) is an abomination of (unto) the Lord your God.” Having been a middle and high school teacher for ten years I can tell you kids can be very cruel these days just as they were cruel in my day – but now with social media there are more tools to visit cruelty upon another. It is unfortunate that we do not go by God’s advice these days and instead seek to normalize all forms of behavior. I am truly sorry for the loss of a child.

  5. It is not bulling to repeat what the word of GOD says. I always say to read the Bible for yourself. GOD loves everyone the same and gives you a chance to redeem yourself. It is up to each one of us to make a choice as to how we react to what happens to us. As parents it is up to us to educate our children in such matters. May GOD bless you and help you in your grief.

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