Homophobic Instagram post blamed for schoolboy’s suicide: ‘One post destroyed my brother’s life’

Salvador Rios

The family of a 14-year-old boy who took his own life have blamed a homophobic social media post for his death.

Salvador Rios died on 15 August at a family member’s home after a post on social media targeted him with homophobic abuse.

The gay teen’s death, which is being investigated by police, came before he was supposed to start eighth grade at Standley Middle School in San Diego, California.

Speaking to ABC10, as reported by the Mirror, his sister, Aleah, said an anonymous post had been shared on social media on the day of her brother died.

“One post not only destroyed my brother’s life, but my life, my family’s life. I feel like a part of my heart is missing.” 

Prior to the Instagram post, which has since been deleted, her brother was excited about the start of the new school term, she added.

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“Someone posted a picture of him, making very homophobic remarks, disclosing personal information that he had disclosed only to a few individuals,” Aleah said of the post, which is believed to also have tagged Salvador’s family and friends.

Salvador first experienced homophobia after coming out as gay in the sixth grade, at the age of just 12, his sister said. He was attacked by several students on his way home from Marston Middle School. His family later discovered he had been experiencing bullying since the beginning of the school year.

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This led to him being moved the new school. 

‘The happiest and funniest in our family’

A GoFundMe set up by Salvador’s family has almost reached its target of $10,000 (just under £8,000) to help towards his funeral costs. 

The fundraiser states Salvador, also known as Chavito, “was a son, a brother, a nephew and a friend to many and will be remembered for being the happiest and funniest in our family, and the one with the most extravagant fashion. His cousins knew him as the life of the party. He was such a kind soul and well-loved by our family”. 

A study led by University College London (UCL) researchers, and published in the international Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology journal, found that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more than twice as likely as straight people to experience suicidal thoughts or self-harm.

The findings echoed similar studies from the US, which documented an increased risk of suicidal thoughts within the LGBTQ+ community.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact the Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.

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