'Abandoned Twice' Teen Kills Self After Reunion With Parents

China's Liu Xuezhou dies of suicide after reunion with birth parents goes sour
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2022 11:42 AM CST
He Found His Parents Via Social Media. Then, Tragedy
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Giulio Fornasar)

A Chinese teen who'd recently tracked down his biological parents using the power of social media has died, apparently of suicide, after that reunion went sour—a case now shining a spotlight on everything from cyberbullying to the sale of children in China. Per the Washington Post, Liu Xuezhou, a teacher trainee believed to be between 15 and 17 and who'd been adopted as an infant, was rushed to a hospital in Sanya early Monday. ER workers there told Chinese media that Liu died after overdosing on antidepressants. NBC News details Liu's story, starting with a video he put up in early December asking for help in finding his birth parents.

The video went viral, and thanks to that and the help of police, the teen was able to make contact with both his birth father and mother, who'd since separated—and Liu, who posted both reunions on social media, described them as "happy" ones. But things soon went south, as Liu started publicly claiming his birth parents had sold him to his adoptive parents, leading to his birth mother blocking him online and accusing Liu of trying to force her to buy a house for him. Social media posts over the case soon exploded, with some sympathizing with Liu and others slamming him for being selfish.

Just hours before he died, Liu—whose adoptive parents died in a fireworks accident when he was a preschooler, leading him to go stay with extended family—took to social media one last time, posting a 7,000-word letter online on Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter) that addressed his depression, the bullying at school he says he'd experienced, and feelings of childhood loss. "Thanks to all those who cared for me and sorry that I failed you," he wrote, per the Post. "Wish there were fewer dark and malicious people in this world." He also noted he'd effectively been "abandoned twice" by his biological parents, per the BBC.

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After his death was confirmed by Chinese authorities, the tone online shifted from being accusatory toward Liu to one of "nationwide soul-searching," the Post notes, with many expressing outrage on his Weibo page over his ordeal with his parents and the cyberbullying he'd endured. "I hope in your next life you find parents who protect you, brothers and sisters who love you and live a life without worries," one commenter noted, per the BBC. "Trolls and bullies were his last straw," a Chongqing University media studies expert tells the Post. "He acted tough, but after all he was a teenager." (Read more birth parents China stories.)

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