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Nonbinary teen Nex Benedict died by suicide, according to medical examiner

Editor’s Note: If you are in the US and you or a loved one have contemplated suicide, call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to connect with a trained counselor. Outside the US, a worldwide directory of resources and international hotlines is provided by the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and you can turn to Befrienders Worldwide.

The death last month of a Oklahoma 10th grader the day after they told their family they were involved in a fight at school was determined to be a suicide, says an autopsy summary by the state medical examiner that was released Wednesday.

Nex Benedict’s family released a statement Thursday calling for close attention to be paid to the full autopsy report, rather than the initial findings already publicly available, to ensure “other pertinent portions of the report are not overshadowed by the ‘classification’ of Nex’s death.”

In their statement, Benedict’s family released what they said is a portion of the full autopsy report, detailing “numerous areas of physical trauma over Nex’s body that evidence the severity of the assault.”

CNN has reached out to the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to confirm they shared the full report with the family. The full report will be released March 27, within 10 days of the summary report as dictated by state statute, the examiner’s office said Wednesday.

According to family and friends, Nex Benedict identified as nonbinary and their death February 8 in Owasso drew national attention, with multiple vigils taking place for the teen throughout the US, as advocates pointed to a heightened and hostile climate against the LGBTQ+ community.

The Rainbow Youth Project USA, a national organization devoted to LGBTQ youth suicide prevention, told CNN last week it saw a 238% increase in crisis calls from Oklahoma in the weeks since Nex died.

This led the organization to create a rapid response team in Oklahoma simply to handle the volume of calls, particularly from Owasso.

The Owasso Police Department issued a statement Wednesday, saying early evidence indicated the death was the result of a suicide but it waited for the medical examiner’s conclusion before making the information public.

“The Owasso Police Department would like to take this moment to inform anyone in crisis or contemplating suicide of the Oklahoma Mental Health Lifeline, just call or text 988,” police spokesperson Lt. Nick Boatman said.

Police video shows Nex describe fight

Body camera video from February 7 released by the Owasso Police Department shows a police officer speaking with Nex and their guardian in a hospital after a fight in an Owasso High School bathroom between two groups of students.

Nex, 16, says the day of the fight, they went to the bathroom “and I was talking with my friends, they were talking with their friends and we were laughing. And they had said something like, ‘Why do they laugh like that?’ And they were talking about us in front of us.”

In response to those comments, Nex poured water from a water bottle on the students and that’s when things escalated, Nex tells the officer.

They came at Nex and grabbed at their hair, Nex says. Nex was then able to grab one of the girls and threw her into a paper towel dispenser, they say. Nex eventually got thrown onto the ground and the other students proceeded to beat them up, Nex says in the video.

The altercation was broken up by students and a faculty member, police have said. All students walked to the assistant principal’s office and the nurse’s office, police said.

The officer wearing the body camera advises Nex and guardian Sue Benedict that the courts could view throwing liquid on someone as assault and as the action that started the altercation.

Eventually, the Benedicts decided not to seek charges.

The following afternoon, Owasso Fire Department medics responded to an emergency involving the teenager, who was transported to a pediatric emergency hospital where they later died, police said.

Federal agency investigating school district

The US Department of Education said earlier this month it is opening an investigation into whether the school district “failed to appropriately respond to alleged harassment,” according to a letter from the department.

Owasso Public Schools officials said they received notice March 1 about the investigation.

“The district is committed to cooperating with federal officials and believes the complaint submitted by HRC is not supported by the facts and is without merit,” schools spokesperson Brock Crawford said at the time.

CNN has reached out to Owasso Public Schools and the US Department of Education for comment on the autopsy results.

A GoFundMe has been established on behalf of Nex and their family.

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