Nex Benedict poses outside the family's home in Owasso, Okla., in December 2023. Source: Sue Benedict via AP, File

Death of Nonbinary Teen Nex Benedict after School Fight is Ruled a Suicide, Medical Examiner Says

Sean Murphy READ TIME: 2 MIN.

The death of a nonbinary high school student the day after a fight inside an Oklahoma high school restroom has been ruled a suicide, the state medical examiner's office said Wednesday.

"From the beginning of this investigation, Owasso Police observed many indications that this death was the result of suicide," Owasso Police Department Lt. Nick Boatman said in a statement. "However, investigators did not wish to confirm that information without the final results being presented by the Oklahoma Medical Examiners Office."

A summary autopsy report shows 16-year-old Nex Benedict had toxic levels of two drugs in their system and died of an overdose. A complete autopsy will be released in 10 days in accordance with state law, the medical examiner's office said.

Boatman would not confirm whether or not police found a note from Benedict at the scene.

A lawyer for Benedict's family, Jacob Biby, told The Associated Press that he was working on a statement from the family Wednesday but declined to comment further.

Benedict was conscious and alert after the fight on Feb. 7 when telling police about the attack by three girls that occurred after the teen squirted them with water, according to police video released last month.

In video footage from the hospital the day of the altercation, Benedict explains to an officer that the girls had been picking on them and their friends because of the way they dressed. Benedict claims that in the bathroom the students said "something like: why do they laugh like that," referring to Benedict and their friends.

"And so I went up there and I poured water on them, and then all three of them came at me," Benedict tells the officer from a hospital bed.

In a 911 call on Feb. 8 from the teen's home, Benedict's grandmother and legal guardian, Sue Benedict, expressed concern about a head injury as she described Benedict's symptoms.

"They were supposed to have checked her out good," said Sue Benedict, who remained calm during the call and said she had been to nursing school. In a statement on a GoFundMe page set up to help cover funeral expenses, she wrote that the family was still learning to use the teen's preferred name and they/them pronouns.

Paramedics responding to the family's house performed CPR and rushed Nex Benedict to the hospital, where they later died.

"This is not an isolated incident by any means," said Brandon Dilawari, a case manager at Rainbow Youth Project USA, an Indiana-based group that aims to improve the safety and wellness of LGBTQ+ young people.

The group reported a dramatic spike in calls from Oklahoma to its national crisis hotline after news of the teen's death became public. "Bullying and harassment have a significant impact on students and, tragically, many of these youths believe that suicide is the only option for peace."

by Sean Murphy

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