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Nonbinary Teen Nex Benedict Died By Suicide, Medical Examiner Finds

Medical examiners ruled on Wednesday that Nex Benedict, a nonbinary Oklahoma student assaulted in a school bathroom, died by suicide last month.

The summary of state medical examiner’s report, which was obtained by HuffPost, found the 16-year-old died from toxicity of two drugs, an antihistamine and an antidepressant.

On Feb. 7, Benedict was assaulted by their peers in an Owasso High School bathroom. All of the students involved in the fight “walked under their own power” to see the school nurse and assistant principal, according to police. Benedict, who received a suspension, was treated at a hospital. The next day, they collapsed in their living room and were rushed to the hospital, where they later died.

Owasso police claimed in February that Benedict did not die from the trauma sustained in the Feb. 7 attack. But the student’s family said that they would conduct their own independent investigation into the death.

Benedict’s family, the Owasso Police Department and the state’s medical examiner’s office did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Benedict, who was nonbinary, had been bullied for a year, the Independent reported. The bullying began shortly after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed a law requiring students to use bathrooms that align with the sex listed on their birth certificate.

Benedict’s death sparked outrage from LGBTQ activists and organizations, as conservative lawmakers continue to introduce anti-LGBTQ bills in states nationwide. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 478 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced this legislative session so far, following the over 500 bills that were introduced in 2023.

In a statement on Wednesday, President Joe Biden said that he was “heartbroken” by the loss of Nex Benedict, and affirmed calls to end transgender discrimination and address the suicide crisis.

“Jill and I are heartbroken by the recent loss of Nex Benedict. Every young person deserves to have the fundamental right and freedom to be who they are, and feel safe and supported at school in their communities,” Biden said in the statement. “Nex Benedict, a kid who just wanted to be accepted, should still be here with us today.”

He continued: “Nonbinary and transgender people are some of the bravest Americans I know. But nobody should have to be brave just to be themselves. In memory of Nex, we must all recommit to our work to end discrimination and address the suicide crisis impacting too many nonbinary and transgender children.”

The Washington Post reported this week that school hate crimes targeting LGBTQ students have quadrupled in states that have passed anti-LGBTQ legislation. LGBTQ youth mental health organizations have reportedly received increased crisis calls since Benedict’s death, with many callers mentioning instances of bullying and harassment.

Dozens of students walked out of Owasso High School on Feb. 26 to take a stand against bullying and protest the lack of response from school officials following Benedict’s death.

The U.S. Department of Education announced this month that it will launch an investigation into the Owasso Public School District to determine it failed to respond appropriately to sex-based harassment, following complaints filed by the Human Rights Campaign.

“As parents, we send our kids to school expecting that they will be safe and cared for. Nex was failed by so many and should still be here today,” Kelley Robinson, president of HRC, said in a statement on Wednesday in response to the autopsy report. “We hold their family in our hearts as they grapple with the devastating reality that their beloved child, a teen with a bright future, is no longer making this world a brighter place.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org for mental health support. Additionally, you can find local mental health and crisis resources at dontcallthepolice.com. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

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