Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Mad World

At least four incidents of young men killing themselves after being bullied over their sexual orientation have been reported in the US in the last month.

The most recent death was of New Jersey student Tyler Clementi, who jumped from a bridge after his roommate allegedly taped him having sex with a man.

Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro, New Jersey, and Molly W Wei of Princeton have been charged with invasion of privacy after they allegedly streamed the footage on the internet.

On September 23rd, 13-year-old Asher Brown, from Houston, Texas, shot himself in the head. His grieving parents said he had been persistently harassed by other students who thought he was gay.

Fifteen-year-old Billy Lucas, of Indiana, hanged himself on September 9th. Classmates said he had been bullied for years over his sexual orientation.

Another 13-year-old, Seth Walsh from Minnesota, died in hospital on Wednesday, eight days after attempting to hang himself from a tree. He is said to have endured taunts and abuse for being gay from other students.

It is unclear whether suicides for young gay men are up, or if there has been better reporting of their deaths. LGBT students are known to be at a higher suicide risk than their heterosexual peers.

No one is expected to be charged over the harassment which led to the deaths of the three younger boys.

In Seth's case, police found that no crime had been committed.

In Billy's case, a Facebook memorial set up for him was hit by more homophobic abuse, as well as apologies from some of the students who had harassed him.

Meanwhile, Asher's parents say they repeatedly complained to his school about the persecution but officials did not take the reports seriously.

One report claimed that Asher had come out to his stepfather on the morning of his death. The Houston Chronicle reported that the boy's stepfather accepted his declaration.

In another tragedy, 19-year-old Rhode Island student Raymond Chase hung himself on Wednesday. The student was openly gay but it is not clear whether he had been bullied.

The deaths have shocked America and lesbian chatshow host Ellen DeGeneres implored the country to take action and prevent further deaths.

Speaking on her daytime show yesterday, the presenter said: "Something must be done.

"This needs to be a wake up call to everyone that teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country, and the death rate is climbing.

"We have an obligation to change this."

On Clementi, whose body is thought to have been recovered from the Hudson River, she added: "He was outed as being gay on the Internet and he killed himself… One life lost in this senseless way is tragic."

New York-based gay rights group Empire State Pride Agenda said in a statement. “It is difficult to say if this is a trend, or if our society is becoming sensitive to this kind of story that we have heard far too often in the LGBT community.”

Judy Shepard, mother of the late Matthew Shepard who was killed a decade ago for being gay, called for schools to be made safer.

“Our young people deserve better than to go to schools where they are treated this way,” she said. “We have to make schools a safe place for our youth to prepare for their futures, not be confronted with threats, intimidation or routine disrespect.”

Forty-four US states have anti-bullying laws, but gay campaigners complain that many are not comprehensive enough and do not detail what bullying can involve.

Since Billy Lucas' death, Indiana legislators have promised to tighten laws to help prevent future tragedies.

From Pink News


tweetey30 said...

This is so sad.. I cant believe it. I am not gay obviously but those that are dont deserve to be treated this way.. Its horrible.. Its a life style they want and its there choice. If you cant something nice dont say it. That is what I was taught.

Candy Minx said...

Yes, this is so very sad. Can any of us imagine our children feeling so desperate and loney? I have been pretty torn up about this set of suicides for the past couple weeks. I can't keep it together when I think about these kids.