Tragic, senseless, and horrible doesn’t even begin to describe the events of the past month. The count is now at six. Six people were bullied until they killed themselves. They were all gay or picked on for being gay. I don’t know about you, but I am horrified by this trend and I am not okay with it. You don’t have to look far to realize where our children are getting this anti-gay sentiment. With overt and subtle homophobia displayed in our political leaders, hypocritical statements from religious leaders, and downright disgusting and offensive rhetoric from celebrities (rapper/actor 50 Cent), our kids have limited choices of who to look up to. When even religious leaders spew hate, you know we are in trouble.
Justin Aaberg, openly gay and just 15, committed suicide after being bullied in school. Billy Lucas, also 15 wasn’t out, but was mercilessly bullied in school. He hanged himself. Asher Brown, 13, who told his parents he was gay the morning he shot himself in the head, was also bullied. And Seth Walsh, also just 13, hanged himself after suffering years of bullying.
The most recent death was a Johnson and Wales student, Raymond Chase, 19. A sophomore reported as openly gay, Chase apparently hanged himself in his dorm room. According to Now Public, the circumstances surrounding his death are not yet known. The most well known suicide is Tyler Clementi. Clementi, an 18-year-old college student at Rutgers University, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate secretly broadcast him having sex with a man over the internet. Clementi’s room mate, Dharun Ravi and a friend, Molly Wei, used Twitter to ridicule Clementi and inform friends that “Roommate asked for room until midnight. I went into Molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.” Ravi then broadcast his webcam video online. Some days later, he invited his Twitter friends to a video chat while Clementi was again using the room. It has also come out that Clementi was looking for help days before the suicide. He appears to have posted several entries on a website, justusboys.com explaining his situation with his room mate and looking for help. The discussion lasted a few days with others advising Clementi to talk to his resident advisor. In his final post on the thread, on Sept. 22, cit2mo (Clementi’s screen name) wrote about having provided his dorm’s resident advisor with a written description of events. "He seemed to take it seriously," cit2mo wrote. "he asked me to email him a written paragraph about what exactly happened… I emailed it to him, and to two people above him….". Clementi jumped that same day. He posted a message at his Facebook page that read, "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry." Ravi and Wei face invasion of privacy charges in the case, and the possibility remains that they may face additional charges under New Jersey hate crimes statutes, the Associated Press reported on Oct. 1.
To make a really sad situation worse, enter 50 Cent, well known for his hatred of gays. In 2005, he infamously explained why rap and gays do not mix: “Being gay isn’t cool – it’s not what the music is based on. There’s always been conflict at the centre of hip-hop, because it’s all about which guy has the competitive edge, and you can’t be that aggressive if you’re gay.” 50 Cent also tweeted on Sept. 9 of this year: “Perez Hilton called me a douchebag so I had my homie shoot up a gay wedding. Wasn’t his but still made me feel better.” The tweet was eventually removed from the rapper’s Twitter account. But his latest tweet takes the cake. On the 29th, he tweeted, “If you a man and your over 25 and you don’t eat pu**y just kill your self damn it. The world will be a better place. Lol.” As the country mourns the death of Clementi and others, this egotistical, ignorant man is going to advise more gay teens to kill themselves. Talk about insensitive. Talk about losing your endorsements. Talk about being cruel and evil. And not that any part of that is LOL or cool. You sound like a “wanksta”.
Suicide is nothing to joke about. In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. It is the second leading cause of death among 25 to 34 year olds, and the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds. Among 15 to 24 year olds, suicide accounts for 12.0% of all deaths annually. It is scary and real. It is even worse in the gay community. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youths are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, according to the Massachusetts 2006 Youth Risk Survey.
Fortunately, some celebrities are trying to bring this disturbing trend to light. Talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres recorded a Sept. 30 message talking about the deaths. DeGeneres called the rash of suicides "a crisis," and said, "This needs to be a wakeup call to everyone that teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic ion this country, and the death rate is climbing." She goes on to say, "These kids needed us and we have an obligation to change this. There are messages everywhere that validate this kind of bullying and taunting, and we have to make it stop. We can’t let intolerance and ignorance take another kid’s life."
If you or anyone you know is thinking about suicide, please call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK. There are plenty of resources out there to help young people that are struggling with sexuality. Please ask someone.