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California High Schooler Commits Suicide After Video Of Him Masturbating In Bathroom Stall Goes Viral

By / 07.16.14

A teenage boy from Southern California committed suicide last November after being “mercilessly bullied” over an awful incident that underscores the difficulties of going through high school in the digital age. And now his parents want to hold the school district accountable.

Matthew Burdette, 14, took his own life during his family’s Thanksgiving vacation, leaving a note saying he could no longer “handle school” and had “no friends,” according to a $1 million lawsuit filed by his parents against the San Diego Unified School District. The story is an ugly one, reports CBS News:

According to their claim, Matthew, who was on the water polo and wrestling teams, was kicked out of class on Nov. 15 for eating sunflower seeds. The teacher didn’t give him anywhere to go, so he wandered the halls and ended up in a boys’ bathroom, the claim said.

Another student peeked over a bathroom stall and videotaped Matthew, allegedly masturbating. That student posted the video on social media, including SnapChat and Vine, and it quickly went viral among students at schools through the district, the claim said.

The Los Angeles Times reports the school district has rejected the Burdettes’ claim, giving the family six months to file a lawsuit.

Timothy and Barbara Burdette didn’t learn about the video until after their son’s passing. When the couple went to University High School to ask if they had knowledge of the clip prior to Matthew’s suicide, the Burdettes were told that the school had launched an investigation into the provenance of the video, implying that the school did in fact know about the video. The Burdettes now allege the school knew about the incident and the harassment, but did nothing to stop it.

The Burdettes say their son quickly became withdrawn in the two-week window between the incident and his suicide: “Matthew’s once positive and outgoing personality was now wrought with insecurity and depression.”

“Kids saw this video and began to tease Matthew mercilessly—they teased him, they harassed him. They made his life miserable over a two-week period,” Laura Burdette Mechak, Matthew’s aunt, told KGTV in a recent TV interview.

The boy who filmed the clip could now face charges under the state’s anti-bullying law, and is scheduled to appear at a hearing in juvenile court on July 23.

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(Via KGTV, CBS News, LA Times, Gawker, The Daily Dot; Image via Tributes.com)


TAGSawfulBULLYINGMATTHEW BURDETTEsnapchatsuicidevine

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