Bullied teen’s suicide invokes powerful reaction

Bullied teen's suicide invokes powerful reaction

Scott Novak, Opinion Editor

Fourteen year old Jamey Rodemeyer, a freshman at Williamsville North High School, took his life on Sunday, Sept. 18. He was bullied with gay slurs for more than a year.

I knew Jamey. Though he lived in New York, distance was not a limiting factor with the Internet. I and many others tried to help him for months, sending positive messages and encouraging him to speak out against the bullies.

It was crushing to hear Jamey speak of the discrimination he dealt with. One message sent to him read “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it : ) It would make everyone more WAY happier!” He faced hate like this nearly every day.

Jamey had been going through a terrible time, but I never thought it would come to suicide. Learning of his death last week shocked me. I felt a great amount of sorrow, anger, and guilt for not being able to stop his death.

But something incredible has come from this tragedy.

Jamey loved Lady Gaga. He’d often say that her messages of love and acceptance were the only reasons he was still alive. Though Jamey left no suicide note, his last post on Twitter thanked Lady Gaga for all she had done for him.

I wanted Lady Gaga to hear of Jamey’s story, and many others shared the same idea. We reblogged posts on Tumblr to make what happened to Jamey go viral and tweeted Lady Gaga constantly, hoping she would respond.

A few days later, she did.

Lady Gaga tweeted “The past days I’ve spent reflecting, crying, and yelling. I have so much anger. It is hard to feel love when cruelty takes someone’s life…I am meeting with our President. I will not stop fighting. This must end. Our generation has the power to end it. Trend it #makealawforjamey.”

Even more incredible was when the superstar dedicated her song “Hair” to Jamey at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. His picture came up on the screen behind her and she said, “I wrote this record about how your identity is really all you’ve got when you’re in school, you know. It’s called Hair. So tonight, Jamey, I know you’re up there looking on us, and you’re not a victim. You’re a lesson to all of us.”

Now millions of people know Jamey’s story. I am overwhelmed by the world-wide attention this has gotten and am glad to be a part of spreading the message.

Unfortunately, there is still much to be done about the issue of bullying. Just last week, some of the bullies at the Williamsville North High School homecoming dance started chanting about how glad they were that Jamey killed himself. Even at JC, students commonly use the word “gay” to be synonymous with something stupid.

But while people like to blame students for these teenager suicides, there are far more powerful bullies in the adult world. Any teacher who ignores hatred helps perpetuate it. Every politician who does not support equality for all lends a hand of encouragement to students who discriminate against their classmates. Some religious leaders even support discrimination, despite their teachings of compassion towards others. These people enable situations like Jamey Rodemeyer’s to occur and are equally responsible for his death.

To anyone who feels the same way Jamey did, just look at how many people miss him. Please stay strong. It does get better, and you should be around to see it.

Scott Novak is an Opinion Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.