The heartbroken family of a teenager who owns his own life after being online as being gay by his classmates because justice against those responsible for his death.
Channing Smith, 16, fatally shot himself at his home in Manchester, Tennessee, on Sunday night after sexually explicit messages he exchanged with another boy were shared on Snapchat and Instagram, his family claim.
Channing's brother Joshua, 38, believes he had a disagreement during a phone conversation with a girl hours before he died, and in retaliation she shared the messages online outing him as gay.
Channing Smith, 16, fatally shot himself at his home in Manchester, Tennessee, on Sunday after sexually explicit messages he exchanged with another boy were shared on social media
Shortly before his death, Channing shared a haunting Instagram post to say he was taking a break from social media
Joshua said he believed Channing saw those messages online and took his own life at some stage between Sunday night and Monday morning.
He claimed he was told by the investigator in Coffee County that the District Attorney's office decided they may not pursue charges against the teenagers involved.
Now Channing's family fear they may not get justice and are speaking out about the dangers or cyber-bullying.
Joshua, who lives in Kentucky, told DailyMail.com: 'On behalf of our family, we all agree that our first step is to find forgiveness in our hearts to the guys and girls who did this.
'We want to see some action tasks to show other kids that there are repercussions for their actions.
"We don't think kids should be brought up on murder charges, but there is harassment and manslaughter, there are different levels that could happen," he claimed.
Channing, who was a junior at Coffee County Central High School, had confided in a few people that he could be gay or bisexual, according to his brother.
After exchanging sexually explicit messages with another male teenager, a girl known to him posted screenshots online.
Joshua explained: 'Channing had a relationship with this boy, we had no clue as a family, that was his business.
Channing's brother Joshua, 38, believes he had a disagreement with a girl hours before he died, and in retaliation she shared the messages online outing him as gay. They are pictured together earlier this year
Channing was described as a 'happy child kid' who was about to celebrate his 17th birthday and had a love of cars and motorcycles
'He sent some sexually explicit messages back and forth with this boy and the messages ended up getting shared with a girl.
'The messages were released on Instagram and Snapchat that my little brother was gay.
He added: "I'm twice Channing's age and I couldn't imagine if the whole world knew in an instant, I would want to tell them on my terms."
Shortly before his death, Channing shared a haunting Instagram post to say he was taking a break from social media.
The post read: 'I'm going to get off social media for a while. I really hate how I can't trust anyone because those I did were so fake. Bye. "
Joshua claimed that the family didn't know Channing was gay, but they would have accepted him no matter what and so long as he was happy.
He said Channing was a happy teenager and had no history of depression or mental health issues which would have caused him to take his own life.
Channing Smith, who was a junior at Coffee County Central High School, had confided in a few people that he could be gay or bisexual, according to his brother
Channing's mother Crystal Smith is pictured at a candlelit vigil for her son in Manchester, Tennessee on Thursday evening
He was about to celebrate his 17th birthday in November and their father had bought him his first motorcycle which he was excited about.
Joshua added: 'He was the sweetest kid ever from birth, just the nicest kid, I heard this over and over.
'He was the kid who helped everyone else and he was six-foot-three, he was a nice looking young man, he was tall.
'He loved corvettes and motorcycles, he loved those things, he knew more about my car than I knew about my car. He was so smart and intellectual. "
Recalling the devastating moment he found out Channing was dead, Joshua claimed: "My dad called and said" I just found Channing, he's shot and killed himself. "
"I fell to pieces and I drove straight down there." He then investigated and sent messages to some of the people Channing went to school with, and discovered that he was the victim of cyber-bulling.
Channing's mother, Crystal Smith, also described the devastation about her son's death and said social media can be such a dangerous tool.
A candlelight vigil and balloon release was a hero for Channing Thursday at Fred Deadman Park in Manchester
Channing's mother Crystal is pictured to be comforted by a mourner at a vigil for her son
She told WKRN: "Posting one little picture can destroy somebody's life," said Channing's mother, Crystal Smith.
"I can't describe the pain." 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. "
He is also warning of the dangers of social media and said there should be adequate protocols to prevent cyberbullies from spreading offensive material online.
'In today's times social media is so powerful we can use it to spread love and positivity, but we can also assassinate someone with one button, tree and we can immediately change the dynamics of a situation and we don't get to take that back .
'That's how powerful or a tool social media can be or a weapon against somebody.
"I'm not gay and I could care less if someone was, but if you don't agree with it don't put so much pressure on someone that causes them to kill themselves."
Channing was planning to become an engineer and also played keyboard and guitar in his own band and had big dreams for the future
Channing's death by suicide has sent shock-waves through the community of Manchester
Attorney District Craig Northcott was criticized earlier this year after saying he didn't recognize gay marriage and would not prosecute same-sex domestic violence cases, WKRN reported.
However Northcott told Joshua earlier this week that it could take at least 30 days to decide whether he will press charges.
Joshua added: 'We are trying to create a social media storm or exposure and awareness because we know, we want to put pressure on them to take action.
'From there we may file lawsuits civilly against whoever we can. We just want to further Channing's cause moving forwards.
Channing was planning to become an engineer and also played keyboard and guitar in his own band.
'He loved music, that was his passion, he played bass with a local rock band. He liked to sing, he was doing karaoke with his mom since he was a little kid. "
A candlelight vigil and balloon release was a hero for Channing Thursday at Fred Deadman Park in Manchester, which was attended by his family and hundreds of his friends.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Tennesseans aged 10-24, according to The Jason Foundation, a non-profit organization aimed at preventing youth suicide through educational and awareness.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.
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