The family of a trans teenager who died by suicide after being taken into care are demanding answers and justice
The family of a trans teenager who spent much of his life in care before dying by suicide have demanded that LA county improve mental health services to LGBT+ youth in the foster system.
Andrew Martinez was 19 years old when he died by suicide on September 4 and three months previously had been admitted to hospital for an overdose.
But his biological family claim that the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) did not help him access mental health treatment.
His mother stood before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors at a meeting last week and described how she had tried request mental health treatment for her son.
According to Witness LA, she said: “You took my child away from me alive, and now I’m planning his funeral?
“You didn’t focus on his mental health. I requested that even in court.
“I requested every time I went, just to focus on his mental health. He didn’t have any treatment. At all.”
She also claimed that social workers has sent her son home alone after he was hospitalised for his previous suicide attempt.
She said: “Why was he sent back home alone? Why? Why did they do that? He was not capable to be alone.”
Martinez’s aunt was also at the meeting, and told the board that she had been trying to take in her nephew, but was waiting on DCFS approval.
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She said: “My family and I were ready and qualified to support, protect — and most important, to love him more.
“We did everything that was required to get our home certified by the state, the county, and the department… Now he is dead.
“We need to know why he did not receive the support that he needed.”
After the trans teenager’s death, LA county will train caregivers to support LGBT+ youth
In response to the family, and less than three weeks after Martinez’s death, the LA county Board of Supervisors approved a motion to bolster support for LGBT+ youth in care.
The motion said: “Andrew M’s death must be met with urgency to provide youth, including transition age youth in foster care, identified as LGBTQ+ with support and resources to live proud, productive, happy lives.”
It added that it would investigate systemic issues and give training to caregivers and potential caregivers on how to support LGBT+ youth.
The GoFundMe page that raised money for the trans teenager’s funeral said: “Despite his battle with depression, he helped give words of encouragement and helped so many of his friends who are alive today because of that.”