Gay teen AJ Betts was the fifth student of Southeast Polk High School, in Pleasant Hill, Iowa, to commit suicide in the past five years. After being bullied for being gay, having a cleft lip and being half-black, 16-year-old AJ took his own life over the weekend.
"He’s different. He doesn’t add up to what they’re used to,” Noah Lahmann, AJ’s best friend, told KCCI News. “You’re hurting people with words. I lost my best friend because of words."
AJ was known for defending gay students at his school, but when he was outed last year, he didn’t find the same support.
"It must have been really horrible, if my son got to the point where he would hurt my husband, my daughters and I to take his own life,” said Sheryl Moore, AJ’s mother. “We had no indication that anything was wrong. He is the happiest kid I’ve ever met. Everybody who meets him says that. Everyone got along with my son very well until they found out he was gay. He was an individual. Everyone who has met him says he was a character. He lets the things that hurt him build up without anyone knowing. And I really hope, for AJ’s sake, that we can stop it, so that maybe, even if we can save one more life from bullying, that would be a success."