Family blames cyberbullying for Coffee Co. teen’s suicide

Middle TN

COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn (WKRN) — Through song and words of hope, family and friends of 16-year-old Channing Smith gathered Thursday night for a vigil in remembrance of his life.

“He had all these dreams and desires,” said brother Joshua Smith. “Those will never be fulfilled.”

Channing was a student at Coffee County Central High School.

“He played music,” Joshua said. “That was his passion.”

Joshua got a call Monday morning that Channing committed suicide.

His family says his classmates posted a screenshot on Instagram and Snapchat of text messages between Channing and another boy, outing the teen as gay.

“Posting one little picture can destroy somebody’s life,” said Channing’s mother, Crystal Smith.

Crystal says cyberbullying killed her son.

“I can’t describe the pain,” she said.

“You can’t understand it. How somebody could be that mean to somebody just for the fun of it? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Family members say Channing was a future engineer and also played keyboard and guitar in his own band.

His bandmates didn’t believe the news.

“I’ve been devastated,” said Jordan Bosco. “I can’t really express it.”

Some hope the pain and grief will spark the conversation that words matter.

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