It's not a new problem in North Carolina, but this puts a new face on the age-old problem as Michael Morones remains in WakeMed with a tube down his throat and potentially life-long brain damage.
Michael tried to kill himself, apparently because he could no longer take the torrent of bullying he was facing at school.
"He's the kid that never walks. He dances everywhere," said Michael's mother, Tiffany Morones-Suttle. "He's so full of energy. He's always on the move.
Michael's parents say he was that way even in the face of daunting bullying at school. Michael likes the cartoon "My Little Pony." It turns out, the cartoon has a growing, and perhaps unlikely fan club -- men and boys known as "Bronies."
Because of that, Michael was teased so much that ten days ago he decided to do something about it.
"He hung himself off the side of the bunk bed, off the railing," said Tiffany.
His parents got him to the hospital, but the damage had already been done. Oxygen to his brain had been cut off.
"We won't know for months how much is going to heal," said Tiffany. "It could even be years before we find out what potential for healing he has."
You might think Michael's parents would be furious with the kids who were bullying their son, but then that wouldn't be in keeping with the show at the center of what they were teasing him about.
"It teaches the most basic moral values to a lot of complex thoughts," said Michael's step-father, Shannon Suttle.
Fans of the show, like Michael, try to live the motto that friendship is magic.
"I've heard a lot of people say you need to go after bullies and hold them responsible," said Tiffany. "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."
Michael has gotten support from as far away as Ireland, and a lot of money, which is used for Michael's care, but also to start a nonprofit to help with bullying.
As Michael's father tells it. It's more than their goal. It's quickly become their mission.
Incredibly, the bullying hasn't stopped. Michael's parents say just Sunday night on a generally supportive website, a few people left very hurtful comments.
They say that just strengthens their resolve to fight bullying, and makes that mission that much more clear.
Bullying prevention expert Nancy Mullin said Michael's age is right in the prime age for suicides.
"Eleven to 15-year-old boys are very much at risk for thinking about suicide when they're perceived as being gay," said Mullin.
She credits Michael's parents with supporting his interest rather than reinforcing shameful feelings.
"The missing piece here is what the school is doing about this," said Mullin.
Mullin says while North Carolina is one of 49 states with bullying prevention laws not enough is being done to implement programs.
Meanwhile, Michael is scheduled to have a tracheotomy Tuesday.
Money can be donated at any State Employees Credit Union under the Michael Morones Recovery Fund, Checks can also be mailed to: The Michael Morones Recovery Fund, c/o Team Trivia Inc., 1380 Woodvine Way, Alpharetta GA 30005, or through PayPal at email@example.com.
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A study of Bronies from researchers in South Carolina:This story is courtesy of our sister station WTVD-TV