On Friday, Nov. 1, Chula Vista teenager Steven Liu, a senior attending Otay Ranch High School, leapt from a bridge overlooking Olympic Parkway and was found dead by authorities within minutes of a call made by his mother to police.
Friends and family remembered Liu’s passion for photography and cross country running as they adorned the spot where Liu was found dead with flowers, letters and candles.
On Friday evening, a close friend of Liu’s wrote on Facebook, “I never thought this would actually happen. I’m praying for you.”
Friends told 10News that they believed his suicide resulted from incessant bullying and harassment by other students at the Chula Vista high school.
“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,” John Meglar, a student who used to run cross country with Liu told 10News.
Adrian Agbuia told reporters his brother was there when Liu finally broke down last week from the bullying and was “banging his head against the door in the classroom.”
Diane Lee, a junior at Otay Ranch High School, shared her feelings about what had happened in a personal interview with JSR on Friday.
“I didn’t really know him but one thing I did know about him is that he has a really big heart,” Lee said. “According to people on his cross country team, he would always bring them water and take pictures for them so they could treasure the moments that they were happy.”
Chula Vista police and a district spokesman have denied that Liu’s suicide had to do with bullying, but Lee feels differently.
“What the police and spokesman are saying is a lie. They just want to protect their images,” said Lee. “The students themselves have said that they know people who bullied him, especially the boys on the varsity cross country team.”
Chul Min Park, a friend of Liu’s since the eighth grade and a four year cross country runner at Otay Ranch High School spoke with JSR on Friday evening.
“I don’t think bullying was the only reason,” Park said. “In fact, I think most people liked him because he was so nice and generous.”
Park,president of the school’s Christian club, said that Liu had been coming to meetings for the past few weeks.
Park mentioned that he “never would’ve thought it would actually happen” as he spoke of the suicide. “He was mentally unstable and hurt himself a lot. I remember he punched himself in the face once and it immediately swelled up.”
“We have a pastor who comes every week and he talked to Steven a few times,” Park said. “Steven hurt himself a lot. I thought things were getting better. I remember our last conversation was while we were walking to practice.”
According to Lee, there could have been a way to prevent Liu’s suicide.
“It’s horrible,” she said, “that it took his death for all of us to open our eyes and realize that bullying is real. It’s not a joke.”