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Mother says son was bullied before suicide

PLEASANT HILL (AP) — The mother of a central Iowa high school student says her son committed suicide after being bullied.

Alexander Betts Jr. took his life over the weekend. The 16-year-old is the fifth student from Southeast Polk High School to commit suicide in the past five years.

Betts’ mother, Sheryl Moore, says she believes her son killed himself because of bullying he experienced for being gay. Friends say Betts was constantly ridiculed because he was gay, half African-American and born with a cleft lip.

Moore says she wants to use her son’s death to educate people about bullying.

Steve Pettit, the high school’s principal, says he could not say if Betts had reported being bullied. Pettit says the school takes such incidents seriously and has procedures in place allegations of bullying.