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Jamey Rodemeyer and the Increase in Gay Bullying and Suicide

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Jamey Rodemeyer was a gay fourteen year old boy living in Williamsville, New York. On Sunday September 18, 2011 he hanged himself outside his home. Rodemeyer had been bullied since grade school, but it had gotten worse when middle school started. When high school began he insisted that the bullying had stopped.

Rodemeyer's parents, Tim and Tracy, were convinced that their son was no longer being bullied. He had seemed optimistic on the outside, but inside he was in pain. On his blog, kept secret from his parents, he wrote about his suicidal thoughts, bullying, homophobia, and his idol Lady Gaga. The online sites were also a root of the bullying. One online bully wrote, "Jamie is stupid, gay, fat, annd ugly. He must die!" Another wrote, "I wouldn't care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everybody WAY more happier."

Lady Gaga was outraged when she heard of his suicide. She tweeted, "Bullying must become illegal. It is a hate crime." She also said, "I am meeting with our president. I will not stop fighting. This must end. Our generation has the power to end it. Trend it at #MakeALawForJamey."

Jamey's mother commented to NBC 2, "It took him away from our family way too early and we're just convinced that he had a purpose on this planet and it was to touch as many people as he could." His father stated to WIVB, "To 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."

Jamey joined the "It Gets Better" program on YouTube, a program aimed towards gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, and other bullied teenagers. He posted his video in May saying, "That's all you have to do. Just love yourself and you're set. And I promise you, it will get better." He seemed optimistic, but no one knew what was really happening to him.

Other teenagers, gay and straight, have become victims of bullycide, the act of committing suicide to escape continued bullying. Phoebe Prince was a fifteen year old Irish immigrant living in Massachusetts. After she broke up with her popular boyfriend the taunting began. Students bullied her in front of classmates and faculty up until the day of her death. The bullying was not brought to light until after she was found hanged in her apartment stairwell in January of 2010. Six students were charged with crimes relating to Phoebe's death and unrelated crimes, such as statutory rape.

Tyler Clementi was an eighteen year old freshman at Rutgers University. He jumped off the bridge between New Jersey and New York on September 22, 2010. His roommate had been suspected in filming Tyler's sexual contact with another man. The video had gotten out and Tyler was brutally bullied.

The day Jamey Rodemeyer died he wrote a thank you to Lady Gaga on his blog. He also wrote, "I pray the fame won't take my life." It is possibly connected to Gaga's album title, "The Fame".

The Amherst Police Department's Special Victims Unit is investigating three boys who allegedly bullied Jamey to death. They are deciding whether to charge them with cyber harassment, harassment, or hate crimes. Currently no bullying laws exist in New York state.



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