Saturday, September 24, 2011

Another SGA/Gay Teen Suicide

Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14year old from Buffalo, N.Y. added his own video to the “It Gets Better Project” last May - the Internet video site where adults share with LGBT teens, a minority likely to be bullied and that suffers a disproportionately high suicide rate.

On Monday, he was found dead outside his home, having apparently taken his own life. 

"People would just keep sending me hate, telling me that gay people go to hell," Jamey Rodemeyer said in his video.

Predictably, the abuse Jamey reportedly suffered wasn't just in public school. On Formspring, an Internet outlet popular among adolescents, Jamey received such messages as “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT AND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” and “I wouldn't care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!”

When friends reported the Formspring taunts to their middle school counselor, according to Jamey's parents, bullies seemed to back off.

Jamey, who continued to write on both Tumblr and Formspring about the bullying he received for being perceived as homosexual had started high school three weeks earlier.  His parents told local news that he seemed to be doing better. Suicide and bullying, however, remained at the forefront of Jamey's mind and in his writing.

On Sept. 8 he posted online about Suicide Prevention Week of September 4-10, "No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you're the ones calling me [gay slur] and tearing me down."

"I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens," he wrote the day after. "What do I have to do so people will listen to me?"

Both his family and friends were aware of Jamey's suicidal thoughts for some time. His mother told the Buffalo News, "He was totally against bullying. He has had issues since fifth grade. He had suicidal tendencies back then." 

Although James was just 14 years old, and in retrospect, still in a bad place, this is the project to which he contributed his video, now viewed over 100,000 times since the time of his death.
For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control – who also state that more young people survive suicide attempts than actually die. 

"Each year, approximately 149,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at Emergency Departments across the U.S."

What happened to this young man was reprehensible.  Gay suicide is hardly a new issue, and is certainly an issue that needs to be spoken about in LDS circles. Suicide happens to LDS as well. It happens to people who are going through very difficult personal times. And, if suicide has touched your life, either in your own thought or by the attempt or loss of a friend or a relative to suicide, please understand that you are not alone.

Here is a quick list of some warning signs of suicide – though certainly not conclusive:
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain, about feeling hopeless or having no purpose, about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Actually looking for a way to kill oneself
The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not be what causes a suicide.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:
  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Possibly remove any obvious firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  • Seek help from a medical or mental health professional, another family member or church leader.  Don’t just let someone sleep on it.  Do something – let someone know, talk to the individual, take action, listen to the spirit.
·         Suicide hotlines by US state:
·         US National suicide hotline: 1800 SUICIDE (1 800 784 2433) &;1-800-273-TALK (8255) 
·         Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
·         New Zealand suicide hotline: 1800 999 9999
·         UK suicide hotline: 08457 90 91 92 or 08457 90 90 90
·         Ireland suicide hotline: 1850 60 60 90
·         Canada suicide hotline: 1800 273 TALK (1800 273 8255)

For online support for LGBT teens, visit:
The Trevor Project, a national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth.

GLSEN: Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, an organization for students, parents, and teachers that tries to affect positive change in schools.
There is no resource specifically for suicidal teens from the LDS church that I know of. A call to LDS Social services was not returned – though I will update if more information is found.


  1. I am very sad to see another one of these. Every time I read about one, I hope this is the last. My all of us, in the church and out, find a way to treat people with the respect they deserve.

  2. It is extremely sad. Anyone who has lost a friend to suicide knows that a lot of people go through struggles on "if" or "why didn't" they prevent it.

    One wonders when people will stop encouraging this behavior.
    One wonders when more people (who may not be encouraging this behavior) will be accepting of gay people.
    One wonders when people who are encouraging of this behavior will do more to educate and help others accept people for who they are.
    One wonders what we (as gay or friends of gays) can do (and are doing) to help prevent this.

    No matter what ... we can and should do better.