EL PASO, Texas - Brandon Elizares was a bright-eyed boy with a big smile and bold dreams. The Andress High School sophomore knew what he wanted to do with his life.
"I'd ask him, 'Brandon, what do you want to be? (and he'd say) I want to be a model, a fashion designer, a poet, I'm going to write me a book," Zachalyn Elizares, Brandon's mom said in an interview on Tuesday.
Brandon also loved to draw. His artwork is still scattered around at his mother's home. "Art was very dear to him and I think that it kept him sane," said Elizares.
The teen tried to stay sane and true to himself. He was open about his homosexuality at the tender age of 14.
"When he first came out, he told me that he had lost a lot of his friends because he wanted to live openly as a gay person and he did not understand. He'd be like 'I'm still me. I'm still Brandon, nothing's changed other than the fact that I like boys," his mother said.
On June 2, the 16-year-old took his own life. It's still unknown what kind of pills Brandon took. His younger brother discovered Brandon's body in his room. His mother said he had displayed all of his school awards in his room and had left a note.
His mother said bullying and threats led to Brandon's suicide.
"My name is Brandon Joseph Elizares and I couldn't make it. I love you guys with all of my heart," Zachalyn said Brandon wrote in the note he left behind before he committed suicide.
"He wrote that he was sorry, that he felt like he had to hide under his skin from being who he was because it made him feel terrible."
The teen's mother said Brandon had friends but also had bullies.
"Brandon was the type of person that if you're mean to him or you say something to him, he just smiled, kept on walking, and he going to say anything back. It's really sad because I always wish that he'd found his voice and I thought that he was getting better at than since he came out. But he internalized a lot of it," Zachalyn said.
She has since discovered that the day before Brandon took his life that he was slated to fight a boy who had been taunting him.
It was the latest in a slew of threats. Once he was even told he was going to be set on fire, his mother said.
"He came home and said 'someone threatened to shoot me' and I was shocked," Zachalyn said, referring to an incident that took place at Chapin High School a couple years ago, when Brandon first came out.
Now there's a different, lingering, shock with the loss of her beloved, smiling son. And Zachalyn tries to cope, clinging to hope that bullying will stop.
"At the end of the day, he did make a choice and I do understand that. I do. But he also had a right to live his life the way that he wanted to and to be respected for who he was."
The organization, Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays, or PFLAG, will hold a memorial for Brandon on Friday at 7pm at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Northeast El Paso.
It is ABC-7's policy not to report on suicides. In this case, we decided to make an exception because of the concerns that bullying may have led a teenager to end his life.
Related Link:Resources Available To Battle Bullying That Could Have Led To El Paso Teen's SuicideCongressman Reyes Delivers Remarks June 20 In House Of Representatives In Memory Of Brandon ElizaresIt Gets Better Website