Last Sunday, teenager Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide. The 14-year-old from Buffalo, NY had been taunted endlessly because of his sexual orientation. Though he found solace in the blogosphere, his friends at school and the music of Lady Gaga, the anti-gay bullying proved too much for Jamey to escape. One anonymous online commenter told the teen, “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it Ö It would make everyone WAY more happier![sic]”
“Go kill yourself, you’re worthless, ugly and dont have a point to live[sic],” wrote another. “You werent born this way. You shouldnt have ever been born[sic].”
Now, police are opening a criminal investigation into Jamey’s suicide. There are currently no bullying laws in New York State, but the Amherst Police Special Victims Unit is weighing harassment, cyber-harassment or hate crime charges for three students at Williamsville North High School, where Jamey had just started his freshman year.
“The special victims unit is looking into the circumstances prior to his death,” Captain Michael Camilleri told ABC News. “We are not sure if there is anything criminal or not.”
Police Chief John C. Askey, meanwhile, told the Buffalo News that “there may have been crimes that have been committed against him,” but refused to speculate further.
“We’re going to be speaking to school officials and students and anyone with direct information about crimes that may have been committed against this individual,” the chief added. Officials at the Williamsville School District have pledged full cooperation to the investigations.
Friends and family described Jamey as a sweet, outgoing youth who always put his loved ones first. Last May, despite his own struggles with bullying, Jamey made an “It Gets Better” video for YouTube. He was very active on the social media blog Tumblr as well as Facebook, Twitter and the anonymous question-and-answer site Formspring. It was Jamey’s Formspring account that attracted the most hurtful, hate-filled messages.
School counselors had advised Jamey not to discuss his sexual orientation online and his parents say that he had stopped using Formspring last year, but the anti-gay sentiments may have become too deeply internalized for Jamey to overcome them. In recent weeks, he complained that no one listened to him and posted dark, depressed song lyrics.
Daryl Presgraves of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), told ABC News that the internet has been a double-edged sword for LGBT teens. “You have a scenario where for a lot of youth, it’s the only [place they can go] and seek peers to give them support and to feel connected to a community,” Presgraves said. “At the same time, they expose themselves to negative cyberbullying.”
Authorities have not revealed the method of Jamey’s death.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please remember that there is help.
The following national hotlines are free and confidential, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:
The Trevor Project
24/7 Suicide Hotline for GLBTQI Youth
USA National Suicide Prevention Hotline
24/7, Free & Confidential
Photo source: YouTube screenshot