It has happened again.
Jamie Hubley, a gay 15-year-old, took his own life last Friday. This latest suicide, of course, comes on the heels of Jamey Rodemeyer’s recent suicide in Buffalo, New York. Both boys were gay – and both were bullied.
From the outside looking in, it’s easy and tempting to connect the dots. Yes, another bullied gay child has taken his life. But it’s important to remember that each situation is different – and that suicide is very complex and influenced by many factors.
Last Wednesday, I spoke at Johnson & Wales University and played my “250 Balloons” video as part of their National Coming Out Day gathering. One person commemorated in the video is Raymond Chase, an openly gay Johnson & Wales student that killed himself in a dorm last year. Talking to the students, they were quick to point out that yes, Raymond was gay, but that there were a number of other challenges in his life. Raymond was an individual – and it doesn’t do his story justice to lump him into a one-size-fits-all national narrative.
Having said all that, the reality is that gay and lesbian youth are up to four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts. Life can be challenging for everyone – gay or straight – but suicide is an issue that impacts the LGBT community disproportionately.
In the coming days, we’ll probably hear more and learn more about Jamie Hubley. And while this latest suicide does raise even more concern about bullying (and perhaps provide fuel for much-needed legislation), it’s important to remember that each of these tragedies is complex, difficult and unique. My thoughts go out to the Hubley family.