Seventh-grader dies by suicide after being told he'd go to hell for being gay

Grieving parents in Tennessee are urging everyone to get educated about bullying after their 12-year-old son, Eli Fritchley, took his own life.

His mother, Debbey, told WKRN-TV last week that her son wore his beloved SpongeBob sweatshirt nearly every day.

“I think probably because he was in the same clothes every single day that they used that as a weapon,” she said. “He was told because he didn’t necessarily have a religion and that he said he was gay that he was going to go to hell. They told him that quite often."

His father, Steve, said the bullying was "really abusive."

"I don’t think it was ever physical. I think it was just words, but words hurt. They really hurt,” he explained.

The Fritchleys now hope to launch a foundation to fight bullying and promote suicide awareness. Their GoFundMe page has received more than $12,000 donations so far.