Memphis family pushes for education, awareness after losing teen to bullying

Memphis family pushes for education, awareness after losing child to bullying

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The size of a memorial inside the Montiel home shows just how many lives Fernando Montiel touched.

"He was just happy, smart, very creative,” said Fernando’s older brother Enrique Montiel Flores. “If you see the pictures of my brother with us you can see that he’s happy. He’s laughing. He’s playing.”

The White Station High School freshman valued life and family. He recently joined ROTC, which his mom says he really enjoyed.

"He had his dreams. He loved life,” she told us.

But the 15-year-old was bullied, his family says. It only became apparent to them after he took his own life April 3.

"He didn’t want to tell us because he didn’t want to hurt us. He didn’t want us to know that he was being hurt,” said Enrique.

Fernando’s family is now turning this tragedy into purpose. It’s something they say he would have wanted.

"Our focus right now is trying to help other kids and other families,” said Enrique.

They’ve reached out to Shelby County Schools and are hoping to work with them on more education and better resources.

A spokesperson with Shelby County Schools sent WMC Action News 5 the following statement:

“On behalf of Shelby County Schools, we extend our thoughts and deepest condolences to the family of White Station High School student Fernando Montiel. Montiel brought joy to his family, school, and community. We are grateful for Principal David Mansfield and his skilled staff of counselors who continue to support grieving students and teachers at White Station HS.
Shelby County Schools

Fernando's family says anything to help stop this from ever happening again.

"We want a change. We want something to happen. We’ve started this campaign for my brother,” said Enrique.

We’ve also learned Shelby County Schools has this bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment and intimidation manual. It outlines mandatory training for teachers, staff and students. SCS says there is no confirmed documentation of bullying, but they are investigating.

The Montiel Family plans on having a vigil in memory of Fernando Wednesday at 6pm at White Station High School.

Shelby County Schools says any student or staff member experiencing mental health challenges to reach out for help:

  • Shelby County Schools Mental Health Center 901-416-8484
  • Shelby County Schools Help Line
  • scshelp@scsk12.org 901-416-5300
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
  • TBI School Violence Hotline 1-800-824-3463
  • TDMHSAS Helpline 1-800-560-5767
  • Call the Tennessee Statewide Crisis Line 24/7 1-855-CRISIS-1 (1-855-274-7471)

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