The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office Has Released Its Final Report on Nex Benedict’s Death

Almost seven weeks after 16-year-old Nex Benedict’s sudden death, the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office has released a full autopsy report officially ruling his death a suicide.

The full autopsy (which refers to Benedict by his deadname) included a long-awaited toxicology report, which found his blood had highly elevated levels of diphenhydramine, the antihistamine found in Benadryl. Toxicologist Jesse Kemp stated that Benedict’s blood contained between 15-25 micrograms of diphenhydramine per milliliter; high doses of diphenhydramine can be lethal. The report also noted the presence of fluoxetine (the antidepressant known as Prozac) in lower concentrations, determining Benedict’s death to be a suicide via both drugs’ combined toxicity.

“The fluoxetine levels aren’t dramatically elevated, but the diphenhydramine ones are,” said Dr. Joshua King, medical director of the Maryland Poison Center, in comments to The Advocate on Wednesday. “That would be in a range compatible with other reports of patients dying from diphenhydramine overdose.”

The autopsy also detailed numerous physical injuries to Benedict’s head and body, including extensive bruising and abrasions from Benedict’s fight with three alleged bullies the day before his death. In video footage taken February 7, Benedict alleged that the three assailants “beat the shit out of me” in a bathroom at Owasso High School. He also said he had briefly “blacked out” after his head was struck against the floor. But the medical report did not tie any physical trauma directly to Benedict’s death, finding instead that it was brought on entirely by the combined overdose.

In the immediate aftermath of its release, LGBTQ+ groups criticized the slow drip of information and continued to amplify calls for an independent investigation.

“The full report does little to fill in the gaps in information about that day or the more than a year of bullying and harassment that led up to it,” wrote HRC President Kelley Robinson in a press release Wednesday. “It does not answer the questions of so many in Oklahoma and across the country. We continue to support the calls from Nex’s family for an independent investigation.”

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said the autopsy “cannot be seen as a conclusion of the investigation” in a joint press release with four other LGBTQ+ advocacy groups. “GLAAD continues to call for an independent investigation to resolve the systemic failures that led to Nex’s death,” Ellis wrote. “Our hearts remain with Nex’s family, with Oklahoma’s incredible 2STGNC+ and equality advocates, and all LGBTQ youth who deserve to grow up in peace and safety.”