The death of a gay teenager in Minnesota at the weekend was not caused by suicide, the boy’s father has told a local TV station after the media reported that his son took his own life as a result of homophobic bullying.

18-year-old Lance Lundsten of Miltona, Minnesota died on Saturday evening and was immediately reported on Facebook as being as a result of suicide. A Sheriff’s office source initially confirmed to KSAX TV that they were treating the death as suicide. Lundsten’s Facebook profile, that has now been removed, reportedly stated that he was gay.

The reports prompted Minnesota senator Al Franken to offer his condolences to the teenager’s family and called for better protection of LGBT students from homophobic bullying. “My heart goes out to Lance’s family, and friends and loved ones. It’s a tragic event, not only for them, but for the school, and the Alexandria community and really for all of us. LGBT kids really do need (more) protection.

“They’re two or three times more likely than straight kids to get bullied. Nine in ten LGBT students said they’ve been bullied or harassed and almost two-thirds say they don’t feel safe in school.”

Mr Lundsten senior told KSAX that he had been told by the coroner that his son had an enlarged heart and died of a coronary edema. He added that there were no signs of drugs or alcohol in his son’s system although the full results of the toxicology report have yet to be finalised.

A spokesman for the coroner’s office declined to comment to KSAX TV.