Vigil held for South Bay teen who took his own life: Friends say teen was victim of bullying

Otay Ranch HS student Steven Liu died Friday

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A vigil was held Saturday evening for an Otay Ranch High School student who took his own life.

Hundreds gathered at the spot where 16-year-old Steven Liu died Friday night. Police say Liu jumped off the bridge in front of Otay Ranch High School in Chula Vista.

"He was just too young," said friend Eric Gonzalez. "He had a lot of things to live for."

Friends gathered to pray and remember the teen that loved running cross country for his school and had a passion for photography.

"When I see him, he's always happy," said friend Kenneth Gervacio. "I didn't think anything like this would happen. I know kids were picking on him and that was very tough. I just didn't know it would be to this length."

Friends say Liu was often picked on at school.

"Everybody just kept on picking on him, just telling him, like really mean names," said Gonzalez.

John Melgar used to run cross country with Liu and said other students would call him names and harass him.

Melgar said, "People took advantage of him … They'd always ask for things. They'd tell him like, 'Oh, can you carry this for me' and he'd just carry it because he's a really nice guy."

Adrian Agbuia told 10News his brother was in class with Liu last week when Liu had a breakdown.

"He just finally lost it," said Agbuia. "All the bullying finally got to him and he was just banging his head against the door in the classroom."

Nearly all called Liu the victim of bullying. It is also what drew dozens of strangers, who were emotional but never knew him.

"I told the person who I was with … that kid's going to jump," said Aaron Bianco. He was there driving near the bridge when he spotted the teen he says moments before was on the ledge crying.

Bianco described what happened next.

"The police officer I was with started first aid immediately," he said. "To be honest, it was obvious nothing was going to work."

He says he saw Liu's mother on the scene within seconds, alerted that Steven was at the bridge.

"She was wailing like I guess any mother would … wailing on the ground," said Bianco.

Both Chula Vista police and a spokesperson for the school district told 10News they do not believe bullying played a role in Liu's death. They said personal circumstances were a factor, but because of student privacy, the district could not go into detail.

Students and friends say the tragedy is a sad reminder of the devastating effects of bullying.

They pledge to raise awareness and pay tribute to their friend during this tough time.         

"We propose to wear neon colors and bring luggages to school as a tribute to Steven 'cause that's what we see him as and that's what he carries at school," said Gervacio.

School officials are bringing in grief counselors on Monday to help students cope with the loss of their friend.

 

County Suicide Prevention Resources
County Suicide Prevention Hotline:
1-888-724-7240

 

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