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High School Student Committed Suicide After Video Of Him Masturbating Went Viral, Parents Say
Parents of a 14-year-old high school student in San Diego say their son committed suicide because he was "mercilessly" bullied by classmates after a video of him masturbating went viral.Timothy and Barbara Burdette filed a $1 million claim against the San Diego Unified School District, saying that a teacher, administrator and possibly other employees at University City High School were aware of the bullying and didn't do anything about it, U-T San Diego reported. The school denied the claim just a few days after it was filed.
According to the claim, a teacher kicked out Matthew Burdette, a Boy Scout who was on the water polo and wrestling teams at school, from class on Nov. 15 because he was eating sunflower seeds. Left wandering the halls with no instruction on where to go, he ended up in the boys' restroom, where he was allegedly masturbating. Another student there peered over the bathroom stall and captured the incident on video. He posted it on social media, including Vine and SnapChat, and it went viral around the school district, the claim said.
"From the moment the video was posted, Matthew was mercilessly bullied, harassed and teased by students who had seen the video," the claim said. "This continued for the next two weeks."
The parents said that Matthew Burdette, who once was a positive and outgoing person, was "visibly wrought with insecurity and depression" over the next couple of weeks. During the Thanksgiving holiday, the family traveled to Crestline to stay at a cabin. On the morning of Nov. 29, Barbara Burdette went to her son's room and found that he had committed suicide over the night.
His aunt, Laura Mechak, told CBS News that he had left a suicide note: "He said, 'I can't do school anymore. I have no friends. I don't want to kill myself, but I have no friends.'"
The Burdettes told KGTV that they went to the school's officials to try to find out what happened to their son, but the officials would not offer them any information. They would later find out about the video from their son's friends. When they confronted the school, they found out that the district had launched an internal investigation on the matter, but would not tell them how they were going to discipline the student who shot the video. The Burdettes went to the San Diego Police Dept. for answers and found out that the student turned himself in for taking the video and was arrested. His hearing is set for July 23.
The school district issued this statement on Monday: "At San Diego Unified, the safety and well-being of our students is a top priority. The district also adheres to the privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations related to students, families and ongoing investigations. For this reason, the district cannot provide details about Matthew Burdette’s death. Our hearts and thoughts continue to be with his family and loved ones."
An attorney for the family says they have six months to decide if they want to file a lawsuit.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone, remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt, and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.