Michigan | News

Gay Teen Commits Suicide on Michigan Campus

Corey Jackson, a 19-year-old student at Oakland University, in Rochester, Michigan, was found dead in a wooded area of campus on Tuesday, the Michigan Messenger reports:

Jackson Police and the medical examiner’s office tell the Oakland Press the young gay man hung himself.

The suicide happened Tuesday night, as activists across the nation were preparing for a Facebook driven day of activism to counter a wave of suicides of young gay people across the country that have been tied to bullying. Wednesday was dubbed Spirit Day by the Facebook plans, and was designed to draw attention to the suicides by encouraging people to wear purple.

Police say there is no indication bullying was a factor in Jackson’s suicide.

And while bullying may not be a factor, Melissa Pope, director of the university’s Gender and Sexuality Center said the issue points to larger, hidden epidemic of suicides among LGBT youth: "We must look beyond the term 'bullying' to the overall treatment of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community to begin to grasp the long-standing epidemic of suicide among our LGBT youth.While the national press has picked up this issue over the last two months, we have been losing high numbers of LGBT youth to suicide for decades..."

Watch a report from MyFox Detroit, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Pretty crazy.

    However, did he leave a note explaining why he killed himself. Was it for other reasons, or was it because he was gay and felt unaccepted?

    Posted by: Joe | Oct 20, 2010 8:37:46 PM

  2. yes... this bully meme has been pissing me off. There is a long list of sociatal pressures making these kids suicidal. I think this bully campaign detracts from the real issues.

    Posted by: homo genius | Oct 20, 2010 8:40:40 PM

  3. Whatever caused this young man to do something so desperate, he was helped along by the likes of Andrew Shervill.

    Posted by: Tone | Oct 20, 2010 8:41:22 PM

  4. So he "wasn't bullied"?

    Maybe people can finally realize/stop avoiding the elephant in the room - its NOT just the individual situations encouraging this kind of desperate action but our LAWS and CULTURE that condones treating gay people as second class citizens.

    i.e..."Yes, we should punish the bullies but, sorry, I still think you don't have the right to marry"

    Posted by: Leo | Oct 20, 2010 8:42:11 PM

  5. @LEO, Hear, hear!


    Posted by: TampaZeke | Oct 20, 2010 9:03:02 PM

  6. It's a personal tragedy first and foremost, for this young man and his family and friends. It's also a tragedy for society as a whole when these things occur.

    None of us know WHY Cory Jackson killed himself. Absolutely, homosexuals and bisexuals have a lot of additional pressure to deal with, but we're all human beings and have most of the same issues and problems all people have regardless of sexual orientation. His suicide could for all we know have been simply the result of a broken relationship, financial / job problems, clinical depression, side effects of substance abuse, etc., Sad, but not unusual for gays, straights, or in betweens.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 20, 2010 9:13:38 PM

  7. No, the family is saying he was bullied,


    Posted by: Carl= | Oct 20, 2010 9:18:09 PM

  8. Attaboy, RB...whatever...always quick with the "it's complicated!" and, "homophobic bullying doesn't cause suicide! It's no worse than heterosexuals who are bullied, and they don't do it!" You're troubled...and flawed.

    Posted by: TANK | Oct 20, 2010 9:18:34 PM

  9. This has gone beyond rediculous. What has cause this recent rash of suicides? Are we even sure they WERE suicides, and that police didn't just label them as such to get them off the books?

    We as a community need to look at these post teen, college age people who are committing suicide and realizing that something more is going on here than "bullying."

    When I was a freshman in college (I was 17 at the time) I almost killed myself. I had planned to, but I decided to take a walk, get a coffee, and do it when it got back to my room. That walk saved my life because I ran into one of the out lesbians in the dorm while in line for coffee. She realized something was up with me and asked me if I needed to talk. About 2 hours of talking later I came out to her, the first person I had ever told. Over the next few weeks, she and I became good friends and I slowly became friends with her friends. That year went from the pit of despair to one of the fondest memories of my life.

    My point with that story was, it wasn't bullying that pushed me to that point. I had been bullied in elementary, middle, and high school. The dreaded "F" word was used, but not because anyone knew my orientation. It was a generic insult. What pushed me to that place was fear. Fear of how my parents would react, fear of loosing friends, fear of being alone, and fear of how people would react on my small college campus where eventually every secret got out.

    Since coming out, the worst reactions to me have been from the gay community itself. Catty, bitchy, jealous queens trying to ruin other people's lives because they're unhappy. I've even been accused of murder because this one guy was jealous that I ended up with my boyfriend at the time.

    We need to provide these people, these young adults, with a warm supportive community that in my experience doesn't currently exist. They should feel free to ask for help and get support without having to watch for a knife in their back. Once we fix our problems within our own community, THEN we can start changing society as a whole. I just pray the statistics don't keep stacking up as we do.

    Posted by: Steve | Oct 20, 2010 9:21:04 PM

  10. This attention to the problem by the media over the last several weeks has revealed something quite obvious - it is this rancid rhetoric that comes from religious organizations, this faith-based conviction that there is something shameful wrong and immoral with homosexuality and the constant expression on TV, radio and print primarily by pious faith-heads that is causing young people to take their lives.

    Posted by: GOD | Oct 20, 2010 9:40:06 PM

  11. 'Since coming out, the worst reactions to me have been from the gay community itself'



    I don't know you, and I'm not try to involve you when for all I know you don't like me or want anything to do with me, but I do relate and agree with most of what you wrote. And there are very few who'll come out and say it like you wrote it, especially on boards like this, for fear of being stigmatized by the so-called gay community-sub-culture. Or just being plain weary of dealing with predictable bitchy backlash for speaking a few hard truths.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 20, 2010 9:51:19 PM

  12. So Steve, is it at least plausible that bullying was a contributing factor in your situation? I mean, did bullying have no impact on your esteem or expectation of rejection? If you hadn't been bullied, if there was no such epithet such as Faggot (and FYI, it is never generic because one is alway aware and sensitive to the darker, nastier meaning), how might fear have been affected? If the BIG bully - religious and therefore presumably moral judgment did not exist and provide justification to the little bullies, how might fear have been affected?

    Posted by: TJ | Oct 20, 2010 9:56:19 PM

  13. Carl, I clicked on the link, and it looks like Cory wasn't being as respected as he wanted or expected by his friends or former friends, maybe some family also. I feel really bad for the dude. It doesn't say or imply that the school environment as a whole was a major issue. This is a very sad story. Nice looking dude too. He was just starting the real fun part of life.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 20, 2010 9:59:10 PM

  14. again, just really sad......

    Posted by: Trev | Oct 20, 2010 10:05:45 PM

  15. http://wwj.cbslocal.com/2010/10/20/police-deny-bullying-led-to-ou-students-suicide/

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 20, 2010 10:05:53 PM

  16. Also, is the concept of bullying necessarily limited to kids interacting with kids? Do adults and societal institutions get a "pass" regarding the effects of verbal, physical, and emotional intimidation? Or do we just call it something else?

    Posted by: TJ | Oct 20, 2010 10:12:49 PM

  17. Terribly sad... tragic even.

    But I'm getting a terrible feeling in my stomach that these are copycat suicides.

    The boys of September were terribly young kids... 13-16 year-olds. They felt trapped... it was a failure of those guardians around those boys.

    It's not the same as an 18+ year-old killing themselves.

    We need to make it clear, as a community, that suicide is not a noble act. We need to make it clear that giving up on yourself is giving up on your family and friends and community. It's unacceptable... we shouldn't glorify those who kill themselves simply because they were gay or had it rough.

    Suicide is a terribly selfish and hurtful action.

    We sympathize and we mourn their loss... but we must not "allow" anyone to get the impression that being gay is a reason for killing yourself. Even if you are being bullied or looked down upon or what have you. There are other options.

    The best revenge is to live well and live long.

    Posted by: JM | Oct 20, 2010 10:20:00 PM

  18. TJ:

    For most people, regardless of sexual orientation, life can be a real bitch interspersed with pockets of contentment and happiness. Part of growing up is learning to deal with life's stresses (that you have little control over) in a healthy fashion. Perhaps stressing life coping skills would be more productive than continuously contemplating and complaining about stuff none of us can really ever control. There is never going to be a utopia, humans are too flawed for that.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 20, 2010 10:20:13 PM

  19. @Ratbastard: Thanks for the support.

    @TJ: I was going to write another very long response with a story about my school years, but I realize that's just overkill. To make a long story short(er), if the bullying from my peers hadn't happened I would have never developed many of the skills I have today. I very much believe that without the bullying I would be a spineless coward who wouldn't have the strength to deal with many issues in daily live. One reason I was able to make it through was I had support in the form of loving parents who made sure to look after my mental health. I can honestly say that if I had to relive those years, I'd endure it again because it gave me tremendous strength. In the end, it was loosing everything that made me who I was in High School, my academic awards, my state championships in various science events, my pseudo-academic celebrity in my small town that caused me to lapse into my depression. I didn't know who I was anymore, and that opened the door for the fear.

    As for the BIG bully as you put it, religion played a part in the fear. I was raised Southern Baptist, how could it not? However, that sort of persecution is not what I consider bullying for this particular conversation because bullies generally don't have any power but the power you give them over yourself. Historically, religion WAS the power. The Church trumped all, it was the law and was above the law. It's only in the last 100 years or so (conservative estimate) that this has begun to change. Religion isn't a bully, it's an oppressive social entity that needs to be put in it's place. That place being inside the minds and hearts of the believers, to be shared to willing receivers not to be forced on others.

    Posted by: Steve | Oct 20, 2010 10:40:26 PM

  20. This is incredibly sad. Everyone in life, regardless of sexual orientation has struggles, but I think some people underestimate the alienation and desperation a homophobic society can create for youth that are still learning, and just trying to grow up like everyone else.

    Whether it's individual bullying or a sense of hopelessness created by the community at large, I just hope there continues to be increasing acceptance and resources for people who need it.

    Posted by: Brian | Oct 20, 2010 11:10:08 PM

  21. "To make a long story short(er), if the bullying from my peers hadn't happened I would have never developed many of the skills I have today"

    By all means, let's continue the cycle of abuse and bullying in the current paradigm--so much so that the rate of lgbt teen suicide and homelessness is much higher than that of heterosexual teens--so that we give them the opportunity to develop "survival skills" in a dystopian social darwinian experiment. After all, what's a few broken eggs to...what exactly? What would be the purpose? Creating more chemically dependent and psychologically imbalanced gay men who "survived"--or other such damaged individuals who plague the gay scene? Oh yes...tough 'em up--and if many continue to commit suicide...it's okay, because this model's producing the very best of the best! Oh my goodness...this lunacy is right up there with the "it DOESN'T GET BETTER! So STRAP IN AND GET SMASHED!" crowd...

    are you people for real? I question your eligibility for personhood.

    Posted by: TANK | Oct 20, 2010 11:10:46 PM

  22. @rat bastard I get what you are saying; I also get a bit of victim-blaming in what you write. Absolutely, one gains coping skills when coping with adversity. It's the positive side of negative experience (aka a reframe). Without going into boring detail, let's just say I gained a graduate degree by studying how the experience of those not in power is adversely affected by prejudice and discrimination. We all have stress (allostatic load); minorities get an extra layer. It has measurable effects in terms of depression, anxiety, substance use, etc. I don't think it is a stretch to consider bullying as overt discrimination.

    I don't post here often, but I often advocate considering pragmatics. But if I didn't believe that life might be more or better some day than it is today, life might be pretty pointless. I make a living helping people cope with today; it doesn't mean I forget about tomorrow. Clearly, prejudice and injustice will likely always be a factor. However, negative consequences can affect expression (tea party types a seeming exception). Coping is great for today. Calling out an injustice might help tomorrow.

    Posted by: TJ | Oct 20, 2010 11:28:24 PM

  23. @steve I'm glad you gained skills. I did, too. I am strong because I coped effectively, and had strength I never acknowledged until many years later. But my (or your) experience is not all experience. For some, rejection by peers, family, society, and religious organizations (regardless of denomination or faith) is, cumulatively, too much. And I would have to disagree with your somewhat naive dismissal that bullies only have the power you give them. I assure you, the group of bigger bullies that, many years ago, held me down and, despite my struggle, sexually molested me, had a great deal of power over a very scrawny, pre-growth spurt adolescent. I survived. It did get better. But not everyone has my strength.

    Posted by: TJ | Oct 20, 2010 11:44:03 PM

  24. "...among young homosexuals". huh?

    Ms Lang, the reporter needs a GLAAD Media Guide sent to her.

    Posted by: jon | Oct 20, 2010 11:45:08 PM

  25. To those who label suicide a"selfish" (and therefore despicable) act: have you ever sat with and listened to the indescribable pain of someone seriously contemplating suicide? If you had, you might have some perspective on how forgetting that others exist because of that pain is understandable. Again, let's blame the victim.

    Posted by: TJ | Oct 20, 2010 11:53:30 PM

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