"Bullycide:" How to stop tennage gay suicideOn the evening of September 22, a shy, 18-year-old college student named Tyler Clementi made his final Facebook update via cell phone. It read, "Jumping off George Washington Bridge." Across the continent in California, 13-year-old Seth Walsh hanged himself from a tree in his backyard. Another teen, Asher Brown of Houston, shot himself in the head last week, and last Thursday, Billy Lucas's grandmother found him hanging dead in her Indiana barn. Aside from the tragic loss of these young lives, all four boys had one thing in common: they were all struggling to deal with the challenges of being a teen... a GAY teen. Sadly, these tragedies are nothing new. Every 2 minutes in the U.S. a child under 15 years commits suicide. In 2009 alone, 219 children took their own lives. And according to a 2005 Survey, teens who identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, or who report having any same-sex sexual contact, are four times more likely to have attempted suicide in the past year than their straight classmates, and usually in the wake of some kind of bullying.
So how do we assuage the senseless death that trails this homophobia? Does the problem reside with parenting? Society? The bullies themselves? Two men think they have an answer. The first is 80-year-old super-philanthropist and millionaire Henry van Ameringen, who last year alone gave over $4 million to over 200 charities. The second is a young Latino called simply "Luna." When Luna, at the age of 14, was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, he contemplated suicide, too. But a social services organization, funded by van Ameringen, saved him, and today, Luna is quite alive. In fact, he spends his time mentoring gay and lesbian youth, and helping to prevent the senseless loss embedded in this phenomenon he calls "Bullycide." Luna and van Ameringen believe the answer lies in empowering the gay youth themselves. With innovative social programs like Luna's New York City-based, "I Love My Boo," which brings young gays and lesbians together, letting them know they are not alone, and van Ameringen's continuing battle for equal gay rights, which he believes will "normalize" homosexuality and make it a fabric of human existence, thus eliminating the stage where bullying occurs, van Ameringen and Luna are confident these heart-breaking suicides can be slowed, and eventually stopped.
Mr. van Ameringen and Luna are available and eager to discuss their pasts, thoughts and programs with the press. Please contact me at the information in the signature below to request more information or schedule an interview.
As an aside,van Ameringen will be celebrating his 80th birthday this Monday, October 4, as he accepts a humanitarian award from LGBT movement leader In The Life Media, whose TV program on "Bullycides" (link to video is below), was one of the first media artifacts to thrust this tragic pattern onto the public stage.
About In The Life Media
In The Life Media produces change through innovative media that exposes social injustice by chronicling lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender life and providing our audiences with effective ways to advance equality within and beyond our communities.
About IN THE LIFE
Produced by In The Life Media, IN THE LIFE is the longest running television show documenting the gay experience. IN THE LIFE is a three-time Emmy Award nominee, a Lambda Legal Liberty Award honoree, and the recipient of the Courage Award from the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, the Seigenthaler Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for excellence in network television, and a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding TV Journalism-Newsmagazine.
CONTACT: DUKE GREENHILL
447 W. 43rd St.
New York, NY 10036
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