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Death of transgender teen who pleaded in note 'Fix society' deemed suicide; investigation ends

04/29/2015 04:23 EDT | Updated 08/06/2015 02:59 EDT
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The death of a troubled transgender teenager who begged people to fix society before she stepped in front of a tractor-trailer on a highway has been deemed a suicide, and the investigation into it has been closed, the State Highway Patrol said.

Leelah Alcorn, who was 17, walked into the path of the tractor-trailer in the wee hours of Dec. 28. She had left a handwritten note on her bed — "I've had enough" — and had done an online search about runaway assistance and a Tumblr search for the word "suicide" before walking onto Interstate 71 in suburban Cincinnati, according to a patrol report released Wednesday.

The driver of the truck is not being charged, patrol spokesman Lt. Craig Cvetan said. The driver wasn't speeding, and he and Leelah tested negative for alcohol and drugs, the report says.

The patrol report notes that a coroner ruled the manner of Leelah's death as suicide. It also said that while no suicide notes were found on the computer there were "allusions to suicide and depression."

An iChat conversation with a friend from Nov. 24 was found on Leelah's computer, the patrol report said.

"My suicide note was queued on Tumblr, and I was ready to jump off the bridge next to my house that goes over I-71, but I decided to call a transgender suicide hotline and I basically cried my eyes out for a couple hours talking to a lady on there," Leelah wrote.

A note later posted on Leelah's Tumblr blog pleaded, "My death needs to mean something. ... Fix society. Please."

Leelah's selfies and poignant messages hit home among many transgender people who say they've faced disapproving families, discrimination or violence and are hoping for more acceptance. Her death prompted social media discussions, online petitions in support of transgender people and vigils as far away as London, and she was mentioned in a Golden Globe winner's televised speech.

Her Tumblr post included complaints about depression and isolation and concerns that life would only get worse. She expressed frustration that her parents wanted her to be "their perfect little straight Christian boy" and said she was taken to "Christian therapists" who were "very biased."

Her parents expressed love and grief after the death but haven't commented publicly much beyond that. The report says the parents told investigators they thought their child had gotten much better after dealing with depression in the summer.

The patrol investigation into Leelah's death was done using her birth name, Joshua Alcorn, and refers to her as Joshua or Mr. Alcorn.

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Cornwell reported from Cincinnati.

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