NSPA Hall of Fame Newspaper

The Charger

NSPA Hall of Fame Newspaper

The Charger

NSPA Hall of Fame Newspaper

The Charger


This poll has ended.

Who's the best rapper?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.

Enough is Enough: A Perspective on What Happened to Nex Benedict


This article mentions suicide. If you are an American reader, and you or a loved one have contemplated suicide, call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to connect with a trained counselor. Outside the US, a worldwide directory of resources and international hotlines is provided by the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and you can turn to Befrienders Worldwide.

A while ago, I’ve learned about the death of Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old sophomore who died from suicide 1 day after being involved in a fight in a bathroom at their school.

Source: GoFundMe for the Benedict Family

Their body’s autopsy revealed that the cause of death was a drug overdose, specifically from diphenhydramine and fluoxetine, commonly known as Benadryl and Prozac respectively.

The overdose wasn’t the only thing noted though. From what both the family and autopsist have revealed, there was a broken blood vessel in Benedict’s eye, and various bruises, cuts and other injuries on their head, face, torso and limbs. Dr. Ross Miller, the autopsist, determined the injuries played no direct role in Benedict’s death. Dr. Constance DiAngelo, another forensic pathologist who was solicited by the Oklahoman and the USA TODAY Network, agreed. However, the Benedict family’s attorneys have said that those details, among others, “contradict allegations of the [fight] on Nex being insignificant.”

Dr. Donald Jason, a forensic pathologist and consultant from North Carolina, added that when drug overdoses are suspected in people’s deaths, a forensic investigator usually goes and searches the home of the victim, searching for wherever medication or other drugs are stored, and counts the amount that’s missing. Such an investigation can find evidence to support the conclusion that a victim suffered from a drug overdose. According to the autopsy, an investigation, however, wasn’t conducted in this case.

Regardless of the drugs within Benedict’s body, physical signs of the fight they were involved in was still very much present.

The Events Preceding Benedict’s Death

To recap the events preceding Benedict’s death, it happened on February 7th, and it started with Benedict and their friends entering the bathroom, conversing. They laughed, while another group of students in the bathroom mocked them, by, according to Benedict, saying along the lines of, “Why do they laugh like that?” In response, Benedict poured water from a bottle onto the group that was mocking them and their friends. The group came at Benedict and grabbed their hair, while Benedict threw one of the girls into a paper towel dispenser. Benedict was then thrown onto the ground, and the group collectively started to beat them.

The fight ended when other students and a faculty member intervened. They all walked to the nurse’s and assistant principal’s office. The nurse deemed the injuries of the students as not needing urgent medical attention, but gave a recommendation for Benedict to undergo a more thorough medical examination.

Source: Owasso Police Department

Benedict’s mother, Sue Benedict, took Nex to the hospital for treatment. An officer was present to get Nex’s statement, and when the question of filing a report regarding the fight came up, the officer discouraged them from filing, citing that because Nex initiated the incident by throwing water on the students, the courts would likely consider them liable. “[Nex] essentially started it…it’s a mutual fight,” the officer said to Nex and Sue Benedict. They also added that it would be a shame if any of the involved students had to deal with a situation turned criminal over “something so minuscule.”

Nex clarified that the bullying had been going on for a year before the fight.

The day after the fight, everything seemed to be almost fine until Benedict collapsed at home. They were immediately hospitalized, and then pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Public Reaction

This is an awful line of events, but unfortunately, there’s so much more that makes Benedict’s death all the more ugly, depending on who you ask.

Benedict was non-binary, used both they/them and he/him pronouns, and had Choctaw heritage, an American Indian culture originating right around modern-day Mississippi.

Those details aren’t there just to pad their identity. Those details actually make this story part of a tragic tapestry that goes beyond the small town of Owasso.

The strong correlation between Benedict’s death and LGBTQ+ identity has elicited massive amounts of  mourning and solidarity across the nation.

Numerous vigils were held in places like Boston, Minneapolis, New York, Southern California, Texas, and, of course, Oklahoma to honor Benedict.

18 days after the fight, at least 40 Owasso High students walked out to protest the “pervasive culture of bullying with little accountability” present on their campus, the culture that could’ve lead up Benedict’s death.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden also released a statement, expressing that they were “heartbroken” over the death:

“Every young person deserves to have the fundamental right and freedom to be who they are, and feel safe and supported at school and in their communities. Nex Benedict, a kid who just wanted to be accepted, should still be here with us today. […] In memory of Nex, we must all recommit to our work to end discrimination and address the suicide crisis impacting too many nonbinary and transgender children. […] Parents and schools must take reports of bullying seriously.”

The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, has been active in condemning the conditions that led up to Nex’s death, saying that Owasso Public Schools had “failed to respond appropriately to sex-based harassment that may have contributed to the tragic death of Nex Benedict.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has even announced on March 1st that they will be launching an investigation to see if Owasso Public Schools neglected to adequately respond to allegations of sex-based harassment, as provisioned under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

As from the Benedict family, their council voiced:

“Reforms creating school environments that are built upon the pillars of respect, inclusion and grace, and aim to eliminate bullying and hate, are the types of change that all involved should be able to rally behind.”

Sue Benedict herself said, among calls to action about her child’s death, “I just want my child back.”

Out of all of this, Benedict’s death has also elicited a similar amount of disdain and contempt.

Oklahoman State Senator Tom Woods, R-Westville, after Benedict’s death was brought up at an event in Tahlequah, stated that he “[represents] a constituency that doesn’t want that filth in Oklahoma.” He further elaborated by saying, “We are a religious state and we are going to fight it to keep that filth out of the state of Oklahoma because we are a Christian state—we are a moral state.”

Ryan Walters, Oklahoma State School Superintendent, expressed his condolences, but used his message to criticize the very community Benedict was a part of, stating:

“The loss of our student in Owasso is tragic for the family, the community, and our state. The LGBTQ groups pushing a false narrative are one of the biggest threats to our democracy and I remain, more than ever, committed to never backing down from a woke mob.”

The Environment that Surrounded Benedict

Something to note is that this incident happened under an anti-LGBTQ+ climate, similar in vein to the malignant public response.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 20 anti-LGBTQ+ state laws have been passed across the US, 175 are currently advancing, and 113 more are just in their introductory phase as of April 16, 2024. Some objectives of the laws are prohibiting specific forms of healthcare, school facility usage, and drag shows, among other things.

Even though 46 anti-LGBTQ+ Oklahoman bills have been defeated this year, 4 more are still in the process.

As previously mentioned, a lot of Owasso High students think that there’s an unaccounted culture of bullying. Jordan Korphage, director of communications for Owasso Public Schools, conveyed to Vox that the school district takes reports of bullying “very seriously.” All reports are directly “are investigated by administrators.” With that in mind, the district apparently didn’t know about the specific bullying that Benedict faced.

What I Think

Now, imagine yourself in a situation where a child and their friends were relentlessly bullied, so much so that one of them has taken their own life to escape that experience. However, instead of offering condolences and honoring them, you have convictions so strong that they outweigh having sympathy for the dead child that it empowers and justifies your intention to mock them, their death, and other children like them.

This is absolutely not appropriate. Mocking the death of innocent people, and children at that, is not normal for a politician, and not normal for a human being. Dehumanizing others causes you to dehumanize yourself.

In the 21st century, the LGBTQ+ community is still under attack. There still hasn’t been enough progress in terms of public attitude and policymaking. There’s still a long fight to go before true equality in regards to sexual orientation and gender identity is realized.