On Sept. 22, after discovering that his Rutgers University roommate, Dharun Ravi, and friend, Molly Wei, live-streamed him in a sexual encounter with another male student without his knowledge, Tyler Clementi committed suicide by jumping off George Washington Bridge. On Sept. 19, when Ravi initially set up the webcam, he posted the following statement on Twitter: “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into Molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.” Two days later, he tweeted his 150 followers to “chat” him on iChat, an instant messaging site that would provide them video feed of what his roommate was doing.
As if this was not bad enough, this is the fifth similar suicide in the past few weeks by a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. All the suicides have been caused by the bullying of their peers based on their sexual orientation.
Entertainer Ellen DeGeneres went through her own massive crisis when she came out of the closet in the mid-1990s. Her sitcom was cancelled after six years, without notification; she had to read it in the papers. She had no further offers, and close friends stopped calling. She dealt with the massive problems that occurred, and she moved on, eventually becoming more popular than she ever was originally.
In reaction to the recent series of suicides, DeGeneres spoke out adamantly about how things need to change. “This needs to be a wake-up call to everyone that teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country, and the death rate is climbing. One life lost in this senseless way is tragic, four lives lost is a crisis. And these are just the stories we hear about – how many other teens have we lost, and how many others have suffered in silence?”
The following statement was made by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Spectrum on the alarming number of suicides: “As a campus community, we need to provide support and help to those students who are being bullied, harassed or ‘put on show’ based upon sexual orientation, as well as accept the sad premise that students can be discriminated, bullied, and harassed by individuals based upon an explicit or implicit sexual orientation. With the help and support by Office of Multicultural Affairs program, Safe Zone, and Spectrum, we are able to combat this issue and be a supportive ground for our students.”
Actor Neil Patrick Harris gave these words of advice to people facing similar situations: “For the love of Pete, there is no reason to harm yourself if something is going bad… stand tall and be proud of who you are… be proud.” Chris Colfer, star of Glee, also shared words of advice. “Know that you have friends, that you are loved, and that you are not alone… I promise it gets so much better.”
At Rollins College, students who are facing these or similar hardships are strongly advised to visit CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services), located in DuBois Health Center in Elizabeth Hall. Students can also join Spectrum, which strives to support the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community at Rollins. Spectrum meets every Thursday at 5:15 p.m. in Bush 120.
Students can also contact the Trevor Project, a national organization for crisis and suicide prevention efforts, at 866-4-U-TREVOR.