SHELBY CO., Tenn. - The family of a Shelby County Schools student who took his own life is pushing for changes within the district.
Fernando Montiel, 15, died earlier this month. He was a student at White Station High School.
Since then, Montiel’s family met with the superintendent to discuss mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
VIDEO: Fernando’s family talking about the 15-year-old who was in ROTC. Orange was one of Fernando’s favorite colors, it’s also the same color for bullying prevention awareness. @FOX13Memphis pic.twitter.com/BmMxQHfYOn— Kirstin Garriss (@ReporterGarriss) April 17, 2019
On Wednesday night, dozens of family and friends gathered outside the high school for a vigil for Montiel.
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Montiel’s family told FOX13 the teen was full of life. Now they are making sure he lives on with a new anti-bullying campaign, urging students and parents to speak up.
The boy’s brother, Enrique Montiel, said it hasn’t sunk in yet that his little brother isn’t with them anymore.
“On the inside we’re just broken, we’re devastated. The only reason I’m here strong like this is because of my parents,” Montiel said.
He said his brother was a happy kid who loved to make people laugh.
Montiel said their family had no idea the 15-year-old was bullied at school until he took his own life in April.
“When we found him, he was fully naked, and he had bruises all over his body and then on his stomach what seemed like a footprint,” said Montiel.
He said Fernando did not leave a suicide note and they don’t know why he was bullied.
SCS has a bullying manual, which is mandatory training for all principals. However, Montiel’s family wants students to meet with counselors monthly and is encouraging them to speak up about bullying.
“Make everyone aware that it’s not right to stay quiet, that we as a community need to speak up,” said Montiel. “Bullying isn’t just happening in the school. It’s happening at work, at home, on social media. It’s happening everywhere and we need to start speaking up for my brother and for those who aren’t raising their voice.”
SCS already has a student hotline for bullying. Now Montiel’s family is working with the district to expand their system to include a mobile app, making it easier for teens to report bullying.
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