No charges filed in Middle TN teen’s suicide

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MANCHESTER, Tenn. (WKRN) — Standing in front of the mural which honors his son, David Smith says he wants it to remind people of why his son, 16- year-old Channing Smith, took his own life.

“There was a precious young life that was needlessly lost,” Smith said.

It’s a painful loss he says his family won’t get justice for.

“It is very disappointing,” he said.

Channing’s family says he committed suicide in September after classmates outed him on social media as bisexual.

The Coffee County District Attorney announced Tuesday that charges won’t be filed against the students.

“I think it encourages people to feel free to do the same thing,” he said.

Coffee County District Attorney General Craig Northcott sent this statement to News 2 Tuesday afternoon:

“I want to do all I can to make sure people know this type of behavior is not acceptable,” Smith said.

The father says he’s now focused on trying to change laws on cyberbullying.

“Get some legislation going here in Tennessee that might prevent this from happening to someone else’s child,” he said.

Under state law, it’s up to each school board to come up with policies and punishment for bullying.

Smith says that’s not enough.

“When the assault takes place via social media and hundreds of people have seen it, how can you defend yourself then?” he asked.

Smith says it’s a loss no other parent or family should have to go through.

“I’ll have to deal with this forever,” Smith said. “But, I don’t want anyone else to have to.”

Smith, his son Joshua, and musician Billy Ray Cyrus visited the White House Monday to speak with First Lady Melania Trump about Channing’s death, cyberbullying, and what can be done to prevent future incidents.

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