VIDEO: Boy, 14, who was bullied online for being gay is found dead
Published 22/09/2011 | 07:58
A TEENAGE boy from New York, who warned in internet postings that he felt suicidal because of homophobic bullying, has been found dead outside his home.
Jamey Rodemeyer (14) became the latest in a string of suicides by young Americans who had been abused or ridiculed because of their sexuality, in several cases over the internet.
Jamey, from Williamsville, complained that he was being viciously abused after talking online about his confusion over whether he was gay.
In May, he recorded a video message for the "It Gets Better" campaign, through which young gay people, along with celebrities and national figures such as Barack Obama, try to encourage each other to remain hopeful through difficult experiences.
"People would just keep sending me hate, telling me that gay people go to hell," he said in the recording, which was posted to YouTube.
Jamey, who had just began high school, received support from his parents, Tracy and Tim Rodemeyer, and went through counselling. Recently "he was saying how great school was going, how happy he was, his grades were great," his father told local television reporters.
But in retrospect, Mr Rodemeyer said, "he fooled everybody. He put on a brave face and I wish he wouldn't have."
Anonymous commenters were posting abusive messages under posts Jamey had made to Formspring, a social networking site, where he continued to discuss his unhappiness.
"Jamie is stupid, fat, gay and ugly. He must die!," one post said. Another read: "I wouldn't care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!"
In an online posting earlier this month, Jamey wrote: "I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so people will listen to me?"
The day before, he wrote: "No one in my school cares about preventing suicide" and reminded his readers that it was national suicide prevention week. He then posted the lyrics to a song by the group Hollywood Undead, which read: "I just wanna say good bye, disappear with no one knowing".
On Sunday, Jamey made two final posts to one of his blogs – one saying he was looking forward to seeing his late great grandmother, and another in tribute to Lady Gaga, his favourite singer, who inspired him with her anthem to self-confidence "Born This Way". His body was found on Monday.
"He was the sweetest, kindest kid you'd ever know," his mother told local reporters. "He would give all his heart to you before he gave any to himself."
Mrs Rodemeyer said that her son's "number one mission in life, why he was put here a short time" had been to campaign against bullying. "And if that means I have to carry it on for him, I will," she said.
Dan Savage, the author and columnist who started the "It Gets Better" campaign, said: "His tormenters need to be held to account not bullied themselves, not prosecuted or persecuted, but held to account for their actions, for their hate, for the harm they've caused."
Several high-profile cases in the US have prompted calls for greater support for young gay people suffering from bullying. Last year Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old student at Rutgers university, killed himself after a fellow student secretly setup a webcam to broadcast his first encounter with a man.
Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old in California, hung himself after years of being bullied, while in Texas Asher Brown, also 13, shot himself in the head with his father's pistol after school officials refused to help.
In his May recording, Jamey had said: "Just love yourself and you're set. And I promise you, it'll get better."
But Mr Savage said: "Sometimes hope isn't enough. Sometimes the damage done by hate and by haters is simply too great. Sometimes the future seems too remote. And those are the times our hearts break."