Wellsville mother speaks out against bullying, after son tries to take his own life
AKRON, Ohio - An openly gay student at Wellsville High School is on a ventilator with lung complications after attempting to take his own life.
His mother says her son was bullied at school.
Bonnie Rodriguez of Wellsville says her son, 15-year-old Austin Rodriguez, was really lethargic on Friday evening, and when she asked him what was wrong, he collapsed.
She immediately took him to a local hospital and on Saturday morning he was flown by medical helicopter to the main campus of Akron Children's Hospital.
21 News traveled to Akron to sit down with the mother of the Wellsville teenager.
Bonnie Rodriguez says her 15-year-old son declared his homosexuality just six to eight months ago. First telling family, then friends, and then no longer hiding it from classmates at school.
The teenager's mother says it was shortly after coming out that her son, who is a straight-A student, began getting bullied at school.
She says at first her son appeared happy and relieved, and then she thought he may have been going through a depression and asked him about it several times, but he never really explained the extent of what he was going through.
Austin Rodriquez is now heavily sedated, and on a ventilator to help him breath. His mother says her son swallowed more than 100 of his own prescription pills. She has now learned from his friends that the bullying became overwhelming.
Rodriguez says, "I actually didn't know how bad it was for him in school until he actually did this. And until friends came out of the woodwork saying we knew Austin was going through this, we thought he was handling it a lot better. We didn't know what to do."
From what his mother has learned, the bullying was not only cruel, but enough to make a teenager who was already introverted, feel like an outcast. "It was electronic, it was face to face bullying, they were hiding his gym clothes because they didn't want him changing in the locker room with them. They didn't want him to eat by them, or in the school lunchroom," Rodriguez said.
The Wellsville mother prays that what happened to her son will spark open discussions on the issue of bullying in school. She warns parents that if you feel there's something going on with your child, trust those instincts and be aggressive in getting to the bottom of it.
Now as this mother fights for her son and her son fights to recover, she's determined to raise awareness about the dangerous impact of bullying and how it nearly cost her son his life.
Doctors say the next few days will be critical for Austin and they're optimistic that he will recover.