MN Gay Teen’s Death May Have Been Heart Failure and Not Suicide

Yesterday, I posted about Lance Lundsten, a Minnesota teen who had reportedly taken his own life after being bullied.

The news outlet, KSAX, which originally reported the story, has updated it:

Lundsten Lance’s father called KSAX and said he received a call from the coroner saying Lance had an enlarged heart and died of a coronary edema. He said he believed it was not a suicide.

He also believed there were no signs of drugs or alcohol in his son's system, but the toxicology report has not been finished according the medical examiner’s office. The medical examiner’s office also said they had no comment about the phone call to Lance’s father.

The Echo Press adds:

According to preliminary autopsy results that were shared with the family, he died from cardiac edema, a condition caused by an enlarged heart.

There was no evidence that drugs or alcohol played any role in the death, according to a family member interviewed by the newspaper. The family was told that it would be six to eight weeks before complete toxicology results are determined.

Dan Savage notes:

Lundsten's death is a tragedy however he died—and no one has disputed the fact that Lundsten was gay, out, and bullied at his high school, a school with anti-bullying programs and policies that do not cover or address anti-gay bullying. That Lundsten's friends—who were quoted in the first reports about his death—immediately concluded that his death was a suicide, and that the bullying he endured at his rural high school was a contributing or determinative factor, is evidence that Jefferson High School has a bullying problem regardless.


  1. CoMo'mo says

    It’s sad indeed that this young man should die. If he had a medical condition that caused his death, stress from harassment and bullying would probably make living with it more difficult. His friends rushed to conclude that it was suicide because that’s the currently popular explanation, produced by news reports of so many deaths that have been self-inflicted. Bullying has so many ramifications for mental and physical health of teens that it has to be controlled and eliminated in every case. You don’t have to die to feel dead.

  2. justiceontherocks says

    I really don’t understand why it matters if the bullying was because he was gay. School administrators should stop bullying of any sort. Period.

  3. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says

    Perhaps it speaks to the level of bullying at his high school that even his friends leapt to the conclusion that he had killed myself over the bullying, versus it being a medical condition that took his life.

  4. BobN says

    Well, the update has now been updated to say that the heart was only slightly enlarged and the enlargement may have been a reaction to whatever killed him.

    Time to break out yet another set of unwarranted conclusions…

  5. Danny says

    @ Serge: I’m a critical care nurse. I never heard of cardiac edema. Congestive failure can be an outcome of ventricular enlargement over time but he’d have been debilitated long before this happened.

    I think there’s ample cause to wonder if the coroner’s report was, uh, politically motivated.

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