Bullied Gay Teen Commits Suicide in Minnesota

Lance Lundsten, an 18-year-old student at Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Minnesota, killed himself over the weekend, and had been bullied for his sexual orientation, according to a Facebook memorial page set up in his honor.

Lundsen

KSAX reports:

Around 10 p.m. Saturday the Douglas County Sheriff's Office responded to an emergency call at the Lundsten's residence in Miltona.

When officers arrived, they discovered 18-year-old Lance Lundsten needing emergency medical care. Lundsten was transported to the Douglas County Hospital where he later died.

The Sheriff's Office confirmed to KSAX that they believed Lundsten's death was a suicide. The Sheriff would not confirm the nature of the medical emergency.

A second Facebook page, the Jefferson Anti-Bully Coalition, has been set up in response to Lundsden's death.

Box Turtle Bulletin notes that sexual orientation is not included in the school's 'anti-bullying' handbook.

Comments

  1. ratbastard says

    Assuming Lance really did die from a suicide, there could be many reasons why he’d kill himself, and being gay is just one of them. Human beings are a lot more complex than a one or two dimensional stereotype.

    People who kill themselves are extraordinarily despondent. No way family and friends wouldn’t be aware something serious was up. Everyone must be more proactive in stepping up to the plate and forcefully intervening if necessary. This kid didn’t have to kill himself, there’s TONS of help and genuinely concerned folks out their.

  2. candideinnc says

    The message isn’t getting through to all these young people, and the massage is so true: it does get better. As ratbastard says, the reasons for teen suicide are multifold, but I think there may also be one common thread–hopelessness. Take our words for it, kids…there is no reason to be hopeless. The future will be brighter if you can just hold on.

  3. Tonez says

    @Sonnie I wasn’t trying to be funny. Its sad. He obviously had problems and he looks really really thin too. I’m just going by the picture. So relax.

  4. Rob says

    My God, how does anyone get through to these kids that suicide is NOT the answer? It’s so sad, especially when one of the most important institutions that could help kids at this age — the public school system — refuses to intervene due to rampant homophobia. The kids apparently can’t depend on parents and friends and certainly not on the church for understanding and guidance. These are truly sad events for GLBT kids.

  5. johnny says

    Wow, only five more months and he’d have been out of high school forever. This is tragic.

    I can almost (almost) relate to the kids who are 15 and think “Three more years of this? No way!” but at 18… dude! It’s almost over!

  6. DR says

    I have to wonder what this young man’s friends and family did to help. I have to wonder what this, and other, young men did to help themselves.

    If youth are being made to feel so helpless that they think suicide is the only answer, they clearly have MH issues which need to be addressed.

    I don’t apologize for this. It needs to be said. All the anti-bullying legislation in the world isn’t going to work if a young person is so emotionally fraught that s/he is considering suicide. Emotionally healthy young men and women do not try to kill themselves.

    Yes, we need to make sure schools are safe. But the reality is that we cannot protect kids 24/7 from the big, bad world, and these kids need to understand that they need to reach out and ask for help. We can’t do it for them. And if they won’t reach out, then mom or dad or their best friend needs to do it.

    And to Rob, you have no idea what his friends, family, or community did for him, so let’s not start throwing around blame, ok?

  7. says

    It does get better–for some people. However this “it gets better” message being sent to young people is problematic. We are essentially telling young people to wait, hold on, get through this because at some point in the future it will get better. What if it doesn’t? What if waiting alone does not provide the tools a young person needs for resilience, growth, and a life worth living?

    Waiting alone doesn’t make someone’s life better. Young people learn about the world around them, develop a loving and supportive community, work hard to resolve issues with family members who are not supportive or find ways to leave behind those relationships. Even with all this, it doesn’t get better for some people. Some people live in places where there aren’t loving and supportive communities. Some people have families that aren’t able to reconcile. Some people do not have the means to leave their community for one that might be more supportive. What of them? Does it get better for them?

    Waiting for it to get better did not help Lance Lundsten. We failed him by not giving him–and others–the tools to be resilient and thrive.

    We can’t keep waiting.

  8. Rob says

    @DR who’s blaming kids’ friends and families for their suicides? I’m simply stating that with the increasing number of them, it appears so many people weren’t able to intervene and stop them from taking their lives. I don’t know that I’d be able to help a kid in trouble but I’d like to think I could. When people can’t depend on their usual support system comprised of church, school, friends and family, it must make for a very lonely existence with no realization it gets better. So, @DR, when kids (or anyone) have serious MH issues, it seems not to be logical for them to reach out for help. It’s a serious problem based just not on homophobia (e.g., the Tucson shootings) that needs more discussion and recognition as a serious problem in this country.

  9. ratbastard says

    LOL skinny! I was 6 feet tall and 135lbs my junior year in H.S. After eating all the food I could get my hands on and working out hard I managed to get up to 150lbs by graduation. I peaked at 165lbs in army boot camp then went back down to 155lbs until my late 20s. Today I’m 175, but that’s only because of working out and building muscle.

  10. says

    @Mihalko

    No one is saying to just wait for it to get better. The point of the message is that once you’re out of high school, you can MAKE your life better. You can become an independent adult and make decisions for yourself about who you want to associate with and who you want to be.

  11. says

    @Bradford. Telling people that it can get better after high school is telling people to wait. Young people aren’t particularly skilled at waiting or having a future orientation. We need to teach people, and create a world, where things can get better now. Not later–after high school.

  12. Matt26 says

    This makes me feel sad and angry. It is 2011 and everyone should know why some people are gay. There is nothing wrong being gay. Why doesn’t this message reach those young gays??? This handsome young man before it was too late.
    I wonder are the people who bullied him happy now? I know I shouldn’t write this way, but I was bullied at school and this brings the emotions up.

  13. DR says

    @Rob…

    Your post is full of assumptions that he couldn’t reach out to friends, family, church groups or other folks in his community. Your exact words were “These kids CAN’T depend on…”

    That sounds like blame to me. I get your point (after I made you elaborate), but maybe you need to eliminate the word “can’t” from the vocabulary and perhaps go with “won’t”. I suspect many of these kids are not reaching out.

    The friends, families, and communities of these youth probably feel horrible enough as it is, and word choice in having this discussion is key. Saying they “can’t” rely on these people, when perhaps they chose not to, comes across as blame.

  14. says

    “It gets better” is merely the start of a conversaion. it’s not a panacea. it’s not a “cure.”

    The spate of gay teen suicides we’ve been reading about are scarcely the first gay teen suicides. They’re merely the first that have become the subject of a national conversation. Getting throught to those who’ve been shoved into the blackest hole of despair is no easy task,but we’ve got to start to try.

    Leaveus not forget this society doesn’t want gay adults to speak to gay teenagers AT ALL! Dan Savage discovered that the internet was a way aorund this severe prohibition, and thus “it Gets Better” was born. But as he himself has insisted, it’s just a start.

  15. Mini Cooper says

    He definitely looks like the thin, twinky type boy in HS that people like Towleroad’s MARKDC would have zeroed in on and attacked relentlessly.

    Bullies identify the weaker people to go after and demoralize.

    It’s horrifying!

  16. Hans Gomez says

    @David Ehrenstein,

    Carlos Castro attempted to “reach out” to Seabra the religiously tortured swimsuit model and look what happened to him.

    It’s a slippery slope.

  17. TampaZeke says

    I was 5′ 11″ and 120 lbs in high school. Ate like a horse and had no eating disorder. Some people, especially at this kid’s age, are just really thin.

    Such a sad situation all the way around.

    Rest in Peace Lance. I hope you are at peace. Much metta.

  18. TampaZeke says

    I SO hope that this doesn’t start another round of suicides as so often happens.

    Everyone needs to become more aware of their friends and family and reach out to those who are struggling with life. There may be nothing you can do but on the other hand a kind, compassionate, understanding word may make all the difference.

  19. Rob says

    @DR…whatever! It appears we have separate interpretations of what I said and what you THINK I meant by my words. The discussion is not about me…or you.

    @TAMPAZEKE I totally agree. I can’t help but feel sadness and loss for all the GLBT suicides and for those who loved them. Let’s hope we’re not starting off 2011 with a new round of such suicidal acts.

  20. justiceontherocks says

    There’s nothing at all wrong with the “It gets better” messages. They’ll resonate with and be helpful to many depressed young people, and will cause relatives and others to think about how bullying and discrimination impact young people. But it’s not the whole answer. In fact, if the messages are the only positive messages a teen is getting, that’s a real big problem.

    There is rarely one cause of an act of finality. I hope these incidents will encourage parents, siblings and others close to gay children to participate in the realization of a healthy happy life.

  21. Husky14620 says

    There have been a lot of comments that his parents, his friends, and he himself should have done or known this or that. WE don’t have all the facts.

    Speaking as someone who came very close to this in high school, and was only stopped by ONE single friend, I’d like to ask a few questions.

    Was he actually Out and Gay? If so, how many of his “friends” were still his friends?

    Did he reach out for help, only to find more homophobia? Was there somewhere in his community that was affirming? While not exactly the bible belt, Minnesota has shown more homophobia recently than in the past.

    How big is the school? How big are the classes? Were there any teachers who tried to intervene? Do teachers and school counselors have the time to work one on one with students, or are they stretched thin, with too many students and too few hours?

    All credible science about suicide indicates that the ones who are most serious about succeeding are the ones who show no outward signs of distress, or appear to be handling their problems just fine. How can we learn to help these kids, especially when they are very much in a suicide “closet” of their very own? And when will we stop blaming the friends, family, and the victim him/herself? And yes, anyone who commits suicide is a victim.

    Lastly, was it a suicide? The Sheriff’s office BELIEVES it was, but won’t confirm the type of “medical emergency”. Is there an ongoing investigation? Will there be an autopsy, and what will it show?

    Many of the earlier comments are pointing blame without all the facts. There is much anger here, anger born of pain and loss. But we need to focus that anger to MAKE it better, not point blame.

  22. Johnnie B says

    Maybe if we stop screeching about every suicide they will lessen. It should also be said that just because someone is gay doesn’t mean they killed themselves because of homophobia. Until we get all the facts we should stop being such drama queens. Not every gay suicide is going to fit into our convenient narrative and it does a disservice to the victim when we usurp their personal misery for our own agenda.

  23. TANK says

    This is SO 2010. Tragic, of course, but done.

    OR, getting fat and old with a slower metabolism. That’s probably more likely, actually. You’re just dying. Sick of fat people talking down to not fat people. You’re not natural, healthy or attractive. Then again…ugly people have nothing to lose by gaining, so I can see the incentive to giving up.

  24. TommyOC says

    From the SAME ARTICLE listed above:

    “Lance’s father called KSAX and said he received a call from the coroner saying Lance had an enlarged heart and died of a coronary edema. HE SAID IT WAS NOT A SUICIDE. [emphasis mine-toc]

    He also said there were no signs of drugs or alcohol in his system, but the toxicology report has not been finished according the medical examiner’s office. The medical examiner’s office also said they had no comment about the phone call to Lance’s father.”

  25. Bryan says

    Apparently not every LGBTQ teen living behind enemy lines (i.e., 99%) is overjoyed by the announcement by distant adults that “it gets better…” someday.

    It’s time for our own underground railway. We allow our kids to die in agony, feeding them platitudes and ad slogans from a thousand miles away. It’s time to encourage persecuted kids to run away from hell, and to offer them shelter, legal or not.

  26. Magma Chamber says

    @bryan

    “The LGBTQ underground railway leaving on track 29 for Chelsea, WEHO, Castro, Provincetown, Key West…yada, yada, yada…”

    Honey, where you been? That train’s been in service for some 60 some odd years!

  27. grego says

    horrifying, sad news. :(
    I Have to admit, been there..

    If you’re reading this and considering suicide options, CALL the Hotline, 866-4-U-Trevor, give em a chance.

  28. B-RAD says

    FIRST AND FOREMOST I AM ALL FOR STUPID PEOPLE OFFING THEMSELVES IT MAKES MORE ROOM FOR PEOPLE THAT WSNT TO BE HERE AND LESS USE OF FOSSIL FUELS. WITH ALL THESE FAGGOTS YOUMG FAGGOTS IN THE CLOSETS YOUR RIGHT ITS ABOUT TO GET A WHOLE LOT BETTER HAHA NO HOMO. I HAVE NO ENCOURAGING WORDS FOR HOMOSEXUALS I AM HOPING MORE FAGS CATCH AND GET HER DONE HAHA

  29. Dom says

    Sorry, all the “coalitions” and “memorials” in the WORLD aren’t going to stop simpleminded people from being absolute pricks to anyone who isn’t almost exactly the same as them. It’s a shame, but it looks to me like intolerance is just as strong as I’ve ever seen it.

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