Lance Lundsten, gay Minnesota teen, may have died from congenital heart defect, not suicide [UPDATE]
Another gay Minnesota teen is dead. But did he kill himself?
This much is undisputed: Saturday evening near 10 p.m., Lance Lundsten, an 18-year-old from Miltona, was found unresponsive and rushed from his home to Douglas County Hospital, where he died.
Local ABC news affiliate KSAX reported that Lundsten had committed suicide, cited his Facebook page as identifying him as openly gay, and reported that he had been the victim of bullying for his sexual orientation.
The news soon ricocheted around the internet, getting picked up first by the Minnesota Independent, then Advocate, Dan Savage, Perez Hilton, and Sen. Al Franken. All of them picked up the story as a cautionary example of gay bullying and the latest sign that we need to remind gay teens that It Gets Better.
But the furor, while well-meaning, was misplaced: KSAX and the Douglas County Sheriff's Department now say the report that Lundsten killed himself was unfounded.
The Echo Press of Alexandria reports today that Lundsten died of a congenital medical condition, not suicide:
According to preliminary autopsy results that were shared with the family, he died from cardiac edema, a condition caused by an enlarged heart.
The Echo Press obtained this information through a family member, who added that the full toxicology screens wouldn't be available for weeks. When City Pages called Lundsten's home this afternoon, we were told that the family would not comment to the press.
The Douglas County Medical Examiner's Office, which performed an autopsy on Lundsten, did not return calls this afternoon.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office, which responded to the 911 call and wasinitially cited as saying Lundsten's death might have been a suicide, says the department is still waiting for the full results of the autopsy report. Full toxicology screens can take as long as five or six weeks to come back, he said.
KSAX News Director Cristi Jessee says her station's initial report that Lundsten committed suicide resulted from miscommunication with the Sheriff's Department:
"My reporter talked with a deputy, and apparently there's some ambiguity about what was said in that conversation. The deputy told the reporter that this looked like a suicide. But the person that she was talking to was not really entitled to be giving out information, and it sounds like there was some sort of confusion.Today, the sheriff has been going around telling people that they never confirmed that information."
Lance Lundsten may indeed have been bullied at school for being gay, but at this point there's nothing to suggest that he killed himself.
Lundsten's funeral is scheduled for this evening at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Alexandria. UPDATE: Lance Lundsten didn't die from heart condition.
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