NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Josh Smith was determined to make it happen.
Following the suicide of his younger brother Channing in September, he recalled speaking with country superstar Billy Ray Cyrus about going all the way to the White House to tell his brother’s story.
An analysis of the latest data from Tennessee schools by News4 Investigates shows not only does cyber bullying continue to be the biggest method of bullying, but that students are targeted by their gender and sexual orientation than race or disability.
Cyrus was so moved by Channing’s story – of how his sexuality was outed on social media and then took his own life – that he not only performed at the boy’s memorial, but also spoke with his agent about coordinating a meeting.
MANCHESTER, TN (WSMV) - Students at Coffee County Central High School came together on Sunday morning to remember a classmate who died by suicide.
On Monday, Smith, his father and Billy Ray Cyrus flew to Washington, where military cars were waiting to take them to the White House.
For 45 minutes, they spoke with First Lady Melania Trump.
“She was already familiar with Channing’s story,” Smith told News4 Investigates.
Smith said the First lady was extremely empathetic and was shocked by the details in his brother’s case.
On Twitter, Melania Trump called Channing’s death a “tragic loss.”
Highlighting online safety is one of my #BeBest priorities. Yesterday, @billyraycyrus introduced me to the Smith family to hear about the tragic loss of their loved one from cyberbullying. Teaching positive online behaviors can ensure a safer future for our children. pic.twitter.com/3p4HfdRtTX— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) November 19, 2019
The First Lady has made anti-bullying efforts a cornerstone of her administration.
The District Attorney General for Coffee County said no charges will be filed after the death of a 17-year-old after his family said he was pushed over the limit by bullies.
The meeting happened a day before District Attorney General Craig Northcutt, who serves Coffee County, announced there is not probable cause to believe that any crimes had been committed.
Smith said Northcutt’s decision sends a mixed message to kids that nothing will happen to you if you cause someone to take their life.
But he said he won’t stop sharing Channing’s story.