An 11-year-old boy attempted suicide late last month and remains in critical condition in North Carolina.
Michael Morones, who was reportedly teased immensely by schoolmates for his love of "My Little Pony," may have possible brain damage and currently needs a tube in his throat as a result of the suicide attempt.
"He's the kid that never walks. He dances everywhere," Morones' mother, Tiffany Morones-Suttle, told reporters. "He's so full of energy. He's always on the move... We won't know for months how much is going to heal. It could even be years before we find out what potential for healing he has."
"My Little Pony" is a television and film series historically marketed towards young girls, but with an enthusiastically dedicated male fan base on a global level. Called "Bronies," these teenage and adult male fans of the show have their own community and culture, thanks largely to the Internet and social media. The wide-spread influence of "Brony" culture has inspired massive conventions and meet-ups both in the United States and abroad.
"[My Little Pony] teaches the most basic moral values to a lot of complex thoughts," Shannon Suttle, the boy’s stepfather, told reporters.
“Michael was upset because the kids were calling him gay for liking a girls’ TV show," ChicagoNow.com reports Suttle said. "His mom and I, well, we told him that it didn’t matter what other people think. It only matters what he thinks.”
According to Morones' parents, the bullying hasn't stopped even after their son's suicide attempt. On Sunday bullies reportedly left hurtful comments about Morones on a "generally supportive website."
"I've heard a lot of people say you need to go after bullies and hold them responsible," said Morones' mother. "But you know, I don't think that's what Mike would want. I would rather teach people how to do right than turn around than punish, because punishment doesn't always work."
A "Go Fund Me" page has been established for those who wish to financially contribute to Morones' recovery. Head here for more information.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or visit stopbullying.gov. You can also visit The Trevor Project or call them at 866-488-7386.