COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — David Smith still struggles, wondering about the warning signs he may have missed.
“He was generally in a good mood,” Smith said. “He never showed any signs of depression.”
His son 17-year-old Channing Smith committed suicide in September.
His classmates outed the teen on social media as bisexual.
“He couldn’t figure out any way that he could go to school the next day and face the embarrassment from classmates and friends,” the father said.
The teen’s death rocked the small town of Manchester and is now prompting leaders in Coffee County to start a discussion around preventing suicide.
“It’s been devastating not only for this child’s family but for his friends, the school, and people that have been involved and have known him,” said Scott Ridgway, executive director of Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.
People gathered Thursday night to learn about warning signs.
According to TSPN, suicide is the number one cause of death for kids ages 10 to 17 in the state.
“It’s one of those subjects that people still feel uncomfortable talking about,” Smith said.
It’s a discussion Smith says people can no longer avoid and is sharing his son’s story with the hope that something good may come from it.
“Make it a priority to prevent other people from losing their lives,” Smith said.