Tennessee Teenager Dies By Suicide After Explicit Text Messages With Another Boy Were Released Online

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How Did Channing Smith Die? New Details On Death Of Tennessee Teen Explicit Messages Between Him And Another Boy Were Blasted On Social Media

Bullying is one of the worst things you can do to someone else, hands down. And, lately, bullying has gotten so much worse than it has been in the past. The story of Channing Smith has proven to be yet another horrible "bullying to death" story that could have, in the long run, been prevented. But how did Channing Smith die?

The Washington Post was one of the first outlets to break the story about the Channing Smith tragedy. The outlet reports that Smith sent sexually explicit text messages to a classmate whom he, presumably, had an interest in. However, shortly thereafter, Smith discovered that other classmates had shared the text messages in an attempt to "humiliate" him. Not long thereafter, Smith's brother shared that Channing Smith was "dead," though he didn't give details as to why. 

Let's look at what else we know about this awful tragedy. 

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1. He was a high school student.

According to Buzzfeed, Channing Smith was a high school student at Coffee County Central High School in Manchester, Tennessee. The outlet reports that Smith wanted to be an engineer. He loved motorcycles and cars. Manchester is a small, rural town best known as the host city of the annual music festival Bonnaroo. It is a conservative town.

2. Channing Smith felt like he was "outed" against his will. 

"Family members say the Coffee County High School student was outed by a classmate following a disagreement between the two. The student reportedly retaliated against him by posting screenshots of explicit texts between him and another boy. At the time of his death, Smith had not told family members that he identified as LGBTQ+," reported Out Magazine, who added that while it was unclear if Smith identified as gay or bisexual, he definitely wasn't "straight."

3. He told the girl who "outed" him that he was going to commit suicide...and she ignored it.

According to The New York Post, Channing Smith told the girl who outed him on Snapchat that he was going to kill himself because she outed him. The outlet reports that she not only didn't seem to care, she ignored his cries for help, and continued to taunt him on social media. We can only hope she and the other students who participated in bullying Channing will be held accountable. 

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4. Channing Smith's brother said that it's completely his classmates' fault that his brother is dead. 

CNN spoke to Josh Smith, who went live on the air wearing a #justiceforchanning T-shirt. In his interview, he made clear that but for Channing Smith's classmates outing him live on social media, he'd still be alive today. That's a heartbreaking thing to consider, and it wouldn't be the first time that a LGBTQ+ student has been bullied to death by intolerant classmates. 

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5. Hundreds of people gathered to remember Channing Smith.

"On Thursday, hundreds of supporters gathered at Fred Deadman Park to show their support for the family, and to honor the life of the 16-year-old. What happened to him should never have happened,” Channing’s mom told a crowd of friends, family, students and community leaders. “I’ll tell you right here and now. You guys need to be a little bit more aware about what you’re posting, how you’re posting it and why you’re posting it. Just because you think it’s cute, or funny to make someone embarrassed or humiliated...think again. Because if someone would have realized that,” she said, “my son would not be dead. And for the people responsible: I just hope you feel the same pain we do," reported The New York Daily News.

6. Will criminal charges be brought?

According to Business Insider, the Smith family is seeking justice for Channing Smith. It's unclear whether criminal charges will, in fact, be pursued however. However, consider that Michelle Carter is currently spending time in prison for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide by text message. It isn't a huge leap to see how the same argument could be applied here. 

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. For more information about Bernadette Giacomazzo, click here.