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Joe Biden: After Nex Benedict’s Death, We Must ‘Recommit’ to Supporting Trans Youth

President Joe Biden shared a statement Thursday reacting to the news that Nex Benedict, the nonbinary teen whose death sparked outrage last month, died by suicide.

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

Biden said that nonbinary and trans folks are “some of the bravest Americans I know,” adding that “we must all recommit to our work to end discrimination and address the suicide crisis impacting too many nonbinary and transgender children.”

The Biden statement comes a day after the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that Benedict died by suicide with their cause of death as combined toxicity from diphenhydramine and fluoxetine.

“Bullying is hurtful and cruel, and no one should face the bullying that Nex did,” Biden wrote in his statement. “Parents and schools must take reports of bullying seriously. My prayers are with Nex’s family, friends, and all who loved them — and to all LGBTQI+ Americans for whom this tragedy feels so personal, know this: I will always have your back.”

He ended his note by directing LGBTQ youth to the National Crisis Hotline, adding, “You are loved exactly as you are.”

Relatives of the 10th-grader previously said that Benedict had been bullied over his gender identity.

On Feb. 7, Benedict was involved in a fight with three older girls. The high school student told police officers and medical staff that he blacked out during the fight, and released footage from the school hallways also shows him swaying slightly while walking to the administration’s offices. One day after the fight, Benedict collapsed and was rushed back to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The teen’s death has drawn national attention as activists and trans students have blamed the state’s antagonistic policies surrounding transgender students for the tragedy.

Following the tragedy, Owasso High School staged a walkout, with 40 students leaving class to protest his death — and the bullying policies students believe caused Benedict’s death, NBC News reported.

There’s been bullying issues. This time, the bullying has gone so far that a student has passed,” Kane, a walkout organizer, told NBC News. “To me, it doesn’t matter if Nex passed from a traumatic brain injury or if they passed from suicide. What matters is the fact that they died after getting bullied, and that is the story for so many other students. I’ve been close to ending it myself because of bullying. It’s not new for so many students.”

Dial 988 in the US to reach the National Suicide Prevention LifelineThe Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386.

Find other international suicide helplines at Befrienders Worldwide (befrienders.org).

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