by Dan Savage
on Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 5:55 PM
This isn't good news—a teenager is still dead—but there are now conflicting reports about the death of Lance Lundsten, the gay Minnesota high school student who died on Saturday and was reported to be a bullying-related suicide last night. It might not have been a suicide:
According to preliminary autopsy results that were shared with the family, he died from cardiac edema, a condition caused by an enlarged heart. There was no evidence that drugs or alcohol played any role in the death, according to a family member interviewed by the newspaper. The family was told that it would be six to eight weeks before complete toxicology results are determined.
Lundsten's father reportedly called KSAX and said that the coroner ruled that Lance died not of suicide, but coronary edema. He said his son had an enlarged heart, and that neither drugs nor alcohol was found in the teen's system.
Lundsten's death is a tragedy however he died—and no one has disputed the fact that Lundsten was gay, out, and bullied at his high school, a school with anti-bullying programs and policies that do not cover or address anti-gay bullying. That Lundsten's friends—who were quoted in the first reports about his death—immediately concluded his death was a suicide and the bullying he endured at his rural high school was a contributing or determinative factor, is evidence that Jefferson High School has a bullying problem regardless.