Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old high school freshman in Buffalo, N.Y., was bullied. A lot. After years of being called gay slurs at school and being told by anonymous people online that he should die, he killed himself Monday.
Jamey’s mother, Tracy, told the Buffalo News that her son had questioned his sexuality and that his classmates began to tease and bully him. His parents were supportive of their son, and Jamey was seeing a social worker and a therapist. But that didn’t stop the bullying, and it didn’t ease Jamey’s pain, which spilled onto his Tumblr account.
“No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you’re the ones calling me [gay slur] and tearing me down,” he wrote on Sept. 8. He said the next day: “I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. ... What do I have to do so people will listen to me?”
Despite their son’s numerous cries for help online, Jamey’s parents thought he was doing well. His father Tim told WGRZ that Jamey said that he was happy.
Last May, Jamey told his friends that he was bisexual and created his own “It Gets Better” video. He thanked Lady Gaga for supporting the gay community and told the viewers, “Love yourself and you’re set.”
Indeed, he received an outpouring of support online from Gaga’s fans, who call themselves “little monsters,” as well as from his friends.
But others online did not embrace him. “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” an anonymous commenter said on Formspring. “I wouldn't care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!” said another.
Columnist Dan Savage, who created the “It Gets Better” project, said on his blog that the people who bullied Jamey should be held accountable “for their actions, for their hate, for the harm they've caused.”
“They should be asked if they’re “WAY more happier” now, if they’re pleased with themselves, and if they have anything to say to the mother of the child they succeeded in bullying to death,” he wrote.
Teen suicide is not a new or uncommon problem. Of the more than 35,000 suicides reported in the United States in 2008, 4,513 of the cases were youths between the ages of 10 and 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Savage said the high number of teenagers who are gay, bisexual or transsexual who have taken their own lives prompted him to found “It Gets Better,” a platform where adults could tell bullied kids that someday their lives will be brighter. But, as he wrote on his blog, the negativity is sometimes louder than the love:
“The point of the ‘It Gets Better’ project is to give kids like Jamey Rodemeyer hope for their futures. But 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.”
Watch Jamey’s “It Gets Better” message, and Jamey’s parents talk to WGRZ2, below.