The family of Channing Smith, 16, Coffee County student, is hurting and they say he took his own life.
Channing’s brother, Joshua Smith, said on Sept. 24, he received a phone call the previous day delivering the horrific news.
"I typically don’t believe in sharing my super personal business on Facebook but I believe this particular incident needs to be a learning lesson for our youth and for parents," Smith said.
“I don’t have 100% of the facts but I do know that some kids were going to use Snapchat to expose my little brother on some sort of embarrassing information that they had collected through screenshots of text messages. My brother couldn’t face the humiliation of cyber bullying so he chose to commit suicide.
“I want to use my platform and influence to let any young person reading this to please use your compassion and love to help others, build them up. I know kids will be kids but we live in a day in time where social media is creating worldwide exposure in a instant. Kids are committing suicide and school shootings at a record amount. Bullying another kid is never acceptable and if you are the one feeling down please know there’s always other options other than death. Please reach out to someone for help. God knows I would’ve protected my brother from anything or anyone that came against him if I’d only known.”
Smith also added, “Parents be sure to show your kids, not just tell your kids that they are the top priority in your life. It’s easy to put things ahead of your children, work, affairs, drugs & alcohol whatever... but your kids must feel like they’re loved and it’s our job to protect them as they go through this life. We can’t do that if we’re not laser focused on them.”
Smith later said that “being gay shouldn’t be a death sentence.”
A memorial for Channing is set for 5:45 p.m. today at Fred Deadman Park in Manchester.
Affecting all age groups, suicide is a significant issue for the youth.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Tennesseans aged 10-24, according to The Jason Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the prevention of the “Silent Epidemic” of youth suicide through educational and awareness.
On average, Tennessee loses a young person to suicide in this age group every 2.6 days. In a 2017 survey, 8.3% of Tennessee high school students reported that they have attempted suicide one or more times in the last twelve months.
This equates to more than 24,000 students within the state each year.
With suicide being preventable, shining a light on the issue is essential.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
A 24/7 Crisis Text Line is also available. Text “HOME” to 741741.