"Love yourself and you're set." Those were the words spoken by 14-year old Jamey Rodemeyer during a video he made for the "It Gets Better" project that appeared on YouTube. ABC News
reports that he also sent out signals on social networking sites that he was struggling with his sexuality. He also begged others on the website to fight off the bullies, but the words went unheard and unacted upon.
And so, Jamey killed himself this weekend after posting an online farewell. The student at Williamsville North High School was tormented over the past 12 months by cyber-bullies who made extreme derogatory gay references on his Formspring account,which is a website that permits anonymous posts. Here's one example.
"JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT AND [sic] UGLY. HE MUST DIE!".
And this one,
"I wouldn't care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!"
Jamey's friends reported that he was being bullied to guidance counselors at the school. But they, and even his mother, thought he had grown stronger.
His death comes at a time when a national summit is being held today sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., to deal with the toll of bullying in general on school children. Rodemeyer's suicide also coincides with the start of LGBT History Month in October.
The New York Daily News
reports that Jamey Rodemeyer's dead body was found outside his home two days ago of an apparent suicide. A group of several dozen turned out Tuesday night in Williamsville, N.Y. to express their sadness over his death.
His mother, Tracy Rodemeyer told the Buffalo News
He touched so many hearts, so many people. I didn't realize how many people he touched. He was the sweetest, kindest kid you'd ever know."
The newspaper also reports that on September 8th, the start of National Suicide Prevention Week, Jamey wrote:
"No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you're the ones calling me [gay slur] and tearing me down."
Then, he put up another post that day to let all know that it was Suicide Prevention Week It was the lyrics to a song by the Hollywood Undead:
"I just wanna say good bye, disappear with no one knowing
I don't wanna live this lie, smiling to the world unknowing
I don't want you to try, you've done enough to keep me going
I'll be fine, I'll be fine, I'll be fine for the very last time"
Just one day before he committed suicide, Rodemeyer wrote painfully about his life - on his blog
"I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so people will listen to me?"
And on the night before he died, Jamey quoted a Lady Gaga lyric from her song "The Queen" on his Facebook page:
"Don't forget me when I come crying to heaven's door."
Jamey recorded the YouTube video four months ago as part of the "It Gets Better Project" which is focused on reassuring gay youngsters that life improves once high school is finished.
Mother Tracy Rodemeyer lamented to the Buffalo News that she thought her son had come to grips with the cyber-bullying.
"He used to cry about it, be sad and angry. But lately he's been blowing them off - or at least we thought he was."
Malcolm Lazin, the founder and executive director of the Equality Forum, with a focus on LGBT civil rights and education has this to say about youngsters like Jamey,
"They are bullied and marginalized. While some may say that Jamey took his life, it is unrelenting homophobia that murdered him."
The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that 28 percent of students aged 12 to 18 reported that they were bullied in school during the 2008-2009 school year. Bullying also slows down as children get older from a high of 39 percent of all sixth graders to 20 percent of high school seniors. And the report notes that the usual form of bullying is ridicule, insult and rumor, rather than physical aggression.