Lance Lundsten, gay Minnesota teen, may have died from congenital heart defect, not suicide [UPDATE]

Categories: GLBT

Lance Lundsten died on Saturday.
Another gay Minnesota teen is dead. But did he kill himself?

This much is undisputed: Saturday evening near 10 p.m., Lance Lundsten, an 18-year-old from Miltona, was found unresponsive and rushed from his home to Douglas County Hospital, where he died.

Local ABC news affiliate KSAX reported that Lundsten had committed suicide, cited his Facebook page as identifying him as openly gay, and reported that he had been the victim of bullying for his sexual orientation.

The news soon ricocheted around the internet, getting picked up first by the Minnesota Independent, then Advocate, Dan Savage, Perez Hilton, and Sen. Al Franken. All of them picked up the story as a cautionary example of gay bullying and the latest sign that we need to remind gay teens that It Gets Better.

But the furor, while well-meaning, was misplaced: KSAX and the Douglas County Sheriff's Department now say the report that Lundsten killed himself was unfounded.

The Echo Press of Alexandria reports today that Lundsten died of a congenital medical condition, not suicide:

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

The Echo Press obtained this information through a family member, who added that the full toxicology screens wouldn't be available for weeks. When City Pages called Lundsten's home this afternoon, we were told that the family would not comment to the press.

The Douglas County Medical Examiner's Office, which performed an autopsy on Lundsten, did not return calls this afternoon.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office, which responded to the 911 call and wasinitially cited as saying Lundsten's death might have been a suicide, says the department is still waiting for the full results of the autopsy report. Full toxicology screens can take as long as five or six weeks to come back, he said.

KSAX News Director Cristi Jessee says her station's initial report that Lundsten committed suicide resulted from miscommunication with the Sheriff's Department:

"My reporter talked with a deputy, and apparently there's some ambiguity about what was said in that conversation. The deputy told the reporter that this looked like a suicide. But the person that she was talking to was not really entitled to be giving out information, and it sounds like there was some sort of confusion.Today, the sheriff has been going around telling people that they never confirmed that information."

Lance Lundsten may indeed have been bullied at school for being gay, but at this point there's nothing to suggest that he killed himself.

Lundsten's funeral is scheduled for this evening at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Alexandria.

UPDATE: Lance Lundsten didn't die from heart condition.

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Brittany Young
Brittany Young

Lance was not gay nor was he bullied. I'm really late to be trying to get the word out there, but I feel like, as his best and only real friend, I should try to do something to clear his name...


see now he died from an enlarged heart...... he was gay and although it may not have been suicide, doesnt change the fact that this should stop. i was a victim and i refuse to be anymore.... in my words yes it does get better however you should never let anyone tell you that you arent good enough or even make yourself think that you need to kill yourself to be able to make people dont. its great to be yourself, those who mind dont matter and those who matter dont mind.... never think of yourself as anything but beautifull because you are.... and never ever think that you should commit suicide from bullying they are not always going to be there.... just be yourself and tell whoever doesnt like it that you dont care.. i read on a t-shirt one day it said "i can only please 1 person a day,m today isnt your day, tomm isnt looking good either :) " i always think that you may hate me for what i am but once you get to know me for who i am then you really dont care that i am gay or not!


Hey Nick--Story update. The straight facts from the Douglas County Medical Examiner.

Douglas County Medical Examiner: "Teen did not die from enlarged heart"


It's still awfully sad when a person dies so young. And let nobody think the message "It gets better" is somehow needed any the less. But it's good if this young man did not suicide.

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