Making national headlines this week is the tragic suicide of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, a victim of bullying and cyberbullying because of struggles with his sexuality. The Williamsville, New York teen was found by his parents early Monday morning after enduring unrelenting torment and bullying by his peers.
Jamey talk openly with his parents about his struggles, and had gone to his school to seek counseling. He also posted his own “It Gets Better” video in May that addressed the intense bullying he faced while sharing an overall positive message that made it seem like Jamey was doing well. However, looking closer at other avenues of social media, one can see more clearly the scary truths about how much harassment Jamey endured. Jamey cites instances of bullying on his Formspring account, including an anonymous post stating: “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” Another post reads: “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it It would make everyone WAY more happier!” And on September 9th, Jamey wrote on his Tumblr account that “No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you’re the ones calling me [gay slur] and tearing me down” and “I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. …What do I have to do so people will listen to me?”
This tragic incident shows how prominent bullying can be for teens, both at school and on social networks, and how something needs to change. In light of Jamey’s suicide, Lady Gaga – a hero of Jamey’s whom he mentioned in his video – announced today that she will not stop fighting to make bullying illegal, encouraging use of the Twitter hashtag, #MakeALawForJamey. And Jamey’s parents Tracy and Tim hope to carry on a message of acceptance in Jamey’s memory. As Tim Rodemeyer stated this week, “To the kids who are bullying they have to realize that words are very powerful and what you think is just fun and games isn’t to some people, and you are destroying a lot of lives.”
How do you talk to teens about cyberbullying and suicide?