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Young Gay Suicide is a Troubling Trend


Asher Brown, Seth Walsh and Tyler Clementi are bound by a single tragic thread that has been in the headlines over the past week committed suicide after being bullied for being gay. This is starting to show that young gay suicide is a troubling trend.

The suicide of 18 year old Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi has brought teen bullying headlines across the US. Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River just days after he had an intimate encounter with a man. He had no idea that college roommate Dharun Ravi, and classmate Molly Wei were disturbed enough to secretly filmed them and aired it live on the Internet.

Clementi is the fourth teen in three weeks to commit suicide after being bullied for being, or seeming, gay. Suicide rates and suicidal thoughts are more common among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered teens and experts, and they say it may be due to bullying making young gay suicide is a troubling trend.

In Texas, 13-year-old Asher Brown shot himself in the head after he was reportedly bullied. In Minnesota, 13-year-old Seth Walsh hung himself from a tree in his backyard. In Indiana, 15-year-old Billy Lucas killed himself. Each one of these young men were victims of relentless teasing about their sexuality. The parents of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi said that they hope their son's death "will serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity."

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"Research shows that such harassment can have a devastating effect on LGBT kids' mental health and suicide risk," Dr. Michael LaSala, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University, wrote in a 2010 article last month, who added that the feeling of fear was escalated because of their determination to hide their problems from their parents and other trusted adults.

Dr. LaSala said schools that had gay and lesbian friendly curriculum and organizations experienced a substantially lessened rate of harassment and bullying when compared to schools that did not.

"Mental health and education professionals who care about youth should advocate for this vulnerable group by appealing to school administrators for services such as support groups as well as tolerance and anti-violence education for the entire student body," Dr. LaSala wrote.

Online resources are also available for youth who find themselves in troubling situations. The Trevor Project, established in 1998, provides a 24/7 crisis hotline which connects troubled teens with a volunteer counselor. The Trevor Project can be reached by calling toll-free 1-866-4-U-TREVOR.

Meanwhile, Dharun Ravi, and classmate Molly Wei. face several charges. One student who showed at the memorial to tell Clementi's parents that they are in her prayers told ABC News that she hopes Ravi gets "the worst...a long time in jail."