LGBTQ+ Youth: Mental Health and Bullying Awareness

Updated March 15th, 2023

Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old who was transgender and used he and they pronouns, according to friends and family, passed away on February 8th, following a fight at Owasso High School.

Nex had reportedly told his mother that he faced bullying at school over his gender identity, and body-camera footage released last month by police from the hours after the school fight shows Nex lying in a hospital bed. Three students “jumped” him after he threw water on them because they were bullying him and his friend for the way they dressed.

The Owasso Police Department released preliminary information from an autopsy report on February 21st that showed that Nex’s death was not the result of trauma experienced from the school fight. With that being said, the department clarified that the fight had not been ruled out as having contributed to or caused his death. On March 13th, his death was ruled as a suicide.

The Owasso Police Department released a statement that wrote, in part: “From the beginning of this investigation, Owasso Police observed many indications that this death was the result of suicide. However, investigators did not wish to confirm that information without the final results being presented by the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office.”

Unfortunately, Nex’s case is an example of an increasing trend. In a survey conducted in 2022 by The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention organization, over 40% of LGBTQ+ youth age 13-24 said they seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous year, with trans and nonbinary respondents reporting even higher rates. That same survey of approximately 28,000 LGBTQ+ young people found 14% had attempted suicide within the past year, including 1 in 5 transgender respondents.

Suicide is not caused by one single trigger. It is the accumulation of unsolvable problems and unbearable pain. A common misconception is that bullying alone leads to suicide. Please see the link below to test your knowledge about the correlation between bullying and suicide. Many opportunities exist to support our young people and others questioning their identity and orientation. Nex’s assault and bullying were not the only reason why his life ended tragically.

Test your knowledge with QPR

An additional tool that could be valuable during this period is The Upstanders movie. It delves into the issue of cyber-bullying, providing insights from the standpoint of the bully, the victim, and the bystander, while also examining the neuroscience behind it. The film showcases innovative laws and initiatives that have already led to a reduction in bullying in educational institutions, and offers practical tips and strategies for those seeking to become upstanders. It emphasizes how we can work together to make a positive impact and bring about fundamental change. Follow the link to learn more below. 

The Upstanders

Everyone needs to understand the impact that discriminatory legislation can have on marginalized communities. The use of the name Nex by LGBTQ+ activists brings attention to the real people who are affected by these policies. It is not just a political issue, but a human issue that affects the safety, well-being, and mental health of LGBTQ+ youth. It is worth noting that the majority of our followers are located in Utah and Idaho, which are two states known for their implementation of such legislation.

The Speedy Foundation had an amazing opportunity to support the transgender and nonbinary community in Boise on March 2nd! Check out the amazing video created by our volunteer, Julia Thompson, Miss Treasure Valley 2024! 

Authentic Selves Brunch Video

During this challenging time for the LGBTQ+ community, it is crucial to recognize the warning signs of mental health issues. In light of the current situation faced by the LGBTQ+ community, it is necessary to be mindful of the mental and emotional challenges that are often experienced. To ensure the well-being of our community members, it is essential to know the signs. Please take a look at the trifold below.


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