Recently, there have been a number of suicides by GLBT teens that have made the news. Often these deaths come after a teen has suffered relentless bullying and harassment about their sexual orientation, be it real or perceived.
Some teens reached out for help, others suffered alone, but all of these lost lives are tragic.
As a tribute, both to the deaths that we know about, as well as to the countless suicides that don't make the papers, here we remember some teens who took their own lives over the past few years.
He was seeing a therapist, had posted his own It Get's Better video, and blogged about being the victim of anti-gay bullying. Yet despite reaching out for help in these ways, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide in 2011.
Cody J. Barker
The 17-year-old Wisconsin teen who killed himself in 2010 was active in his school choir and talked about starting a gay / straight alliance. Maria Peeples, Barker’s peer mentor through GSA for Safe Schools, said he was a passionate activist for all students, "He really cared about making schools a safe place for students. That wasn’t always his own experience with school."
In September 2010, Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman took his life. A gifted musician, the teen may have felt driven to desperation after a roommate secretly filmed and posted him hooking up with another boy.
Chase, a Rhode Island college student was openly gay and was described as outgoing and popular. Unlike, many other gay teen suicide victims, Chase does not appear to have been the victim of bullying at the time of his death.
Walsh, a 13-year-old boy from California, committed suicide in 2010 after being bullied by classmates for being gay. As his bereaved grandmother said, "We are hoping the community will develop more tolerance for different people."
The 2010 morning before he killed himself, Texas, 8th grader, Asher Brown came out to his mom and stepfather. They had felt the conversation went well but like so many others, he had been harassed over his sexual orientation as school officials stood by and did nothing.
Billy Lucas was a 15-year-old teen from Indiana who killed himself in 2010. Though he had not come out, students at his high school had bullied him for being gay. "He was threatened to get beat up every day. Sometimes in classes, kids would act like they were going to punch him and stuff and push him," said his friend Nick Hughes.
Justin Aaberg was a 15-year-old teen from Minnesota. He came out at thirteen, and was bullied both before and after doing so. Justin was one five students his high school who killed themselves in the 2010. Three of those suicides are thought to have been connected to issued surrounding sexual orientation.
Carl Walker was only 11-years-old when he ended his life in 2009. The Massachusetts boy had suffered daily taunts about being gay. His mother's pleas that the school address the issue fell on deaf ears. Carl did not identify as gay, but that didn't stop his bullies from using this as ammunition.
When you look at the list of teens who have turned to suicide it can be pretty overwhelming. It's almost hard to believe that such stories are still so common. Gay teens need to feel safe and protected and supported and something in that equation is going terribly wrong.
There is help, of course. Groups like the gay teen suicide helpline, the Trevor Project, provides gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning teens in crisis with a lifeline. But of course this one organization can't reach every gay teen in need.
We need more than lone organizations tackling this stuff. We need teachers who intervene when they seen kids getting bullied. We need parents who make it clear that calling someone a f*g is just as inappropriate as is calling someone a racial slur. We need a cultural shift.
Sadly that shift is a work in progress. A very slow one it often seems.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please get help immediately. You can contact the Trevor Project at, 1-866-4-U-Trevor. You can also get in touch with the suicide prevention organization Yellow Ribbon at: 1-800-SUICIDE.