Gay Minn. Teen Commits Suicide After Relentless Bullying
A Minnesota teenager allegedly took his own life after being bullied for being gay, the ABC news affiliate in Minnesota, 6News, reported.
Friends of Jay "Corey" Jones, 17, say that he committed suicide because he was harassed based on his sexual orientation. His close friends, Rachel and Tia Born, told the news station that Jones was bullied for being openly and proudly gay and that they believe the abuse could have played a large role in his suicide.
"We all loved him because he was just funny, and an amazing person - like the best person you could ever know," Rachel said. "You could tell it upset him because like he didn’t understand why people couldn’t accept him for who he was," says Rachel.
"I just wish he could’ve turned to his friends instead of resorting towards this because life could get better," says Tia.
Jones’ father, Jay Bocka Strader, told the Minnesota website PostBulletin.com, his son was suffering from depression because of the bullying, which he allegedly endured for years
"He said all of his life they always picked on him," Strader said. "He’d still try to keep his head up at school, but then he’d come home and be really sad about it."
The teen was a member of his school’s gay-straight alliance and had a picture on his Facebook page that said "Gay & Proud." Jones, who knew he was gay from a young age, was very open about his sexuality.
"He just got really depressed about it because the guys weren’t accepting him," Strader said.
The authorities say that Jones took his life by jumping from a bridge near his high school.
"I don’t think that you go from ’Oh, I’ve been bullied and then I’m going to commit suicide.’ I think many things happen from that point to this point and we need to look at that," says Vangie Castro, who works with GLBT youth. "Suicide is not an option for depression, or if you have some kind of issue that you think you can’t- that you have no answers for," says Castro.
But Jones apparently tried to get help. PostBulletin.com notes that the 17-year-old attended a support group meeting at the Gay and Lesbian Youth Services in Rochester, MN., located about 87 miles south of Minneapolis.
"He was looking for something, but I think he just didn’t know what he was looking for," Castro said. The meeting was the only one he attended, however.
The website also points out an incident where one of Jones’ classmates hurled an anti-gay epithet at him during school. Friends said that Jones wanted "to wear short-shorts to school to stand up to the student" but "friends told him not to do it, however, out of concern for what might happen to him as a result," the article says.
"Up until his death, he took a stand," Strader said. "He was like, ’Whatever happens, happens -- I’m just going to take a stand.’ And he started to take a stand."
His father also said that his son’s death was also unexpected.
"I want everyone to have on pink shirts and remember the Corey that tried to get the rights," Jones’ father said. He added that pink was one of his favorite colors. "When I saw him in pink, I really liked him in pink, and he was really happy," Strader continued. "I just told him that pink looked good on him."
Suicide among LGBT youth is unfortunately a common occurrence in the gay community. Just last month 14-year-old Kenneth Weishuhn from Iowa took his own life after allegedly being a victim of anti-gay bullying. The teen had only been out to his friends for a month.
"People that were originally his friends, they kind of turned on him," said his sister Kayla Weishuhn. "A lot of people, they either joined in or they were too scared to say anything," she said.
Communities around the country, however, are tying to prevent these tragedies from happening. In Syracuse, N.Y., for example, a group of guidance councilors talked to the city’s school district officials about anti-bullying policies and want to educate staff on how to create a more tolerant environment for LGBT students.
Even schools in Jones’ state of Minnesota are working to improve school life for gay students. The Anoka-Hennepin School District in suburban Minneapolis is currently amending its bullying polices after the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that the district did not do enough to prevent anti-gay bullying.