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Autopsy Shows Nex Benedict Died by Suicide

Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old nonbinary student in Oklahoma who died a day after a physical altercation in a high school girls’ bathroom, died as a result of suicide, according to an autopsy report released on Wednesday.

A medical examiner’s report said that the teenager had been found with a “combined toxicity” of diphenhydramine, an antihistimine commonly used for allergies, and fluoxetine, a drug often used to treat depression.

Reports of the Feb. 7 altercation at Owasso High School, a day before Nex’s death at home, drew outrage from gay and transgender rights groups who cited reports from the family that Nex had been bullied at school.

The cause of death had remained unclear in the weeks that followed. In a police interview conducted at the hospital in the hours following the fight, Nex reported having “blacked out” while being beaten on the bathroom floor.

The Owasso Police Department said in a statement on Feb. 20 that no police report had been made about the bathroom incident until after Nex was taken to a hospital by relatives later that same day.

Nex was sent home but the family summoned emergency medical technicians to their home the following day, and Nex was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Until the release of the autopsy report on Wednesday, police officials had said only that preliminary autopsy results showed that Nex “did not die as a result of trauma.”

A lawyer representing Nex’s family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman with the Owasso Police Department said that investigators had suspected from the beginning that Nex’s death was a result of suicide.

“From the beginning of this investigation, Owasso Police observed many indications that this death was the result of suicide,” Lt. Nick Boatman said in a statement. “However, investigators did not wish to confirm that information without the final results being presented by the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office.”

In the days after Nex’s death, L.G.B.T.Q. activists highlighted several new laws in Oklahoma that restrict transgender rights, including one that prohibits students from using bathrooms that do not align with their sex at birth and another that prohibits the use of gender-neutral identifications on birth certificates. Oklahoma is one of at least 23 states that prohibit gender-transition care for minors.

But it has never been clear whether Nex’s gender identity was a factor in the altercation in the school bathroom.

In the interview with a school resource officer recorded on video, Nex said the incident began when three girls in the school bathroom had made fun of Nex and their friends “because of the way that we dress.” Nex then poured water on the girls, according to the interview.

“Then all three of them came at me,” Nex told the officer. Sue Benedict, Nex’s grandmother and guardian, is also captured on the video telling the police that Nex’s head had hit the bathroom floor.

Ms. Benedict told the police that Nex took medication at night for anxiety and “mood swings” but had not taken any that day. When she was asked whether Nex took illicit drugs, Ms. Benedict said no but added that Nex “has vaped.”

Owasso school administrators said that counselors were being made available to students and staff members in the wake of the new information about Nex’s death.

“The loss of Nex, a member of the Ram Family and the Owasso community, is devastating,” the school superintendent, Margaret Coates, said in a statement. “We understand that the information released today may bring up additional thoughts, feelings and emotions for students and staff members.”

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.

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