By now you may have heard about the unfortunate passing of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, a high school freshman from Buffalo, N.Y .
Jamey’s death, which has been ruled a death by suicide, has been covered in local and national media and the LGBT news world. As a result, GLAAD is reminding the media of its responsibility to fairly and accurately talk about the life of Jamey as well as the very serious issue of death by suicide. We also encourage everyone to review our Safe Messaging for Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations guide produced in conjunction with the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, GLSEN, The Trevor Project and others. To ensure that everyone has the ability to accurately talk about Jamey, we’ve included information from our partners at The Trevor Project.
Was Jamey bullied to death? While Jamey was bullied, he also had a number of other things in his life that seemed overwhelm him emotionally. A person’s reasons for attempting suicide are complicated, and don’t have a singular cause. It is important to know that Jamey had a supportive family, friends and was in therapy to get additional emotional and psychological help.
Is Jamey’s school to blame? Environmental factors, like availability of resources and access to help and care at school do play a role in a person’s psychological well-being. However, we do not know about Jamey’s school environment. Given that there are many students and faculty affected by news of Jamey’s death, focus now should be put on maintaining a safe and supporting school environment to address their psychological well-being.
How did Jamey die? The news stations covering Jamey’s death and the community response are following safe messaging. We do not know about how he died, but if we were to know, it would not be safe to share that information.
Was Jamey gay? Jamey had blogged about having feelings for boys and possibly identified as gay. He came out as bi- a few years ago, and may still have identified as bi-. As he was 14, it is fair to say that Jamey had questions about his sexual orientation and may have identified as gay or bi-. He was bullied for being effeminate and only having female friends, and for being a fan of Lady Gaga. Jamey’s parents say he questioned his sexual orientation, but was not gay.
How do I let people know? The risk of contagion for this story in particular appears very high, and for that reason we ask that you refrain from sharing it. The best thing to share on social networks is the Trevor Lifeline number – “If you are feeling helpless or hopeless or just need a caring voice to talk to, call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386. The call is free and confidential, and there is always someone to talk to.” It’s more important to work to protect people like Jamey from considering suicide, and his particular story does not need to be part of that protective outreach.