A family friend of an Eastern Oregon teenager who tried to commit suicide says the boy had recently been bullied because he is gay.
"I won't say that that was the whole cause, but it was a contributor," Bud Hill told The Oregonian newspaper (http://is.gd/YjfMOx).
The boy, who is 15, attempted to hang himself on Jan. 19 in an elementary school playground. A spokesman at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland said the boy remains in critical condition.
His family has always been very supportive of his sexual orientation, Hill said, but some La Grande High School students called him names, and he had complained about bullying to a school counselor.
The (La Grande) Observer reported that about 200 people, most of them students, attended a vigil for the teen last week. Numerous classmates described the boy, a member of the cheerleading squad, as an outgoing person who lifts other's spirits.
He "is one of the best people I have ever met. He makes everyone around him feel good all the time," said Frankie Benitez, a junior.
He "always remembers people no matter what," Benitez added. "If I felt bad, I would hang out with him and he would say something small like, `I love your sweater.' He notices things you didn't think anyone notices."
La Grande High senior Edith Moore said the impact of bullying would be lessened if the victims were regularly told how much they are loved.
"I think that if he thought this many people would show up (at the vigil) he would not have tried to kill himself," Moore said.