Gay California Teen Jeffrey Fehr Kills Himself After Years of ‘Pure Hell’ Bullying

The Sacramento Bee has yet another awful story of a gay teen whose suicide on New Year's Day appears to have years of homophobic bullying as its root cause.

FehrThe paper reports:

In the early hours of New Year's Day, Jeffrey hanged himself in the front entrance to his family's home in a tony Granite Bay neighborhood. He was 18 years old.

Since that day, his parents have searched their hearts and minds for answers. Though Jeffrey, who was gay, had recently ended a relationship and had been treated for depression, they believe something more insidious put him on the path toward suicide. They are convinced that a lifetime of taunts and bullying contributed to his decision to take his own life.

"We will second-guess ourselves forever," his father said. "But we do know that for years and years, people knocked him down for being different. It damaged him. It wore on him. He could never fully believe how wonderful he was, and how many people loved him."

His parents talked to the paper about a scenario that is all too familiar:

As early as the third grade, Jeffrey was the target of taunts, family members said. He had few friends and felt comfortable only when he was at home or on vacation with people he trusted.

"He would come home from school and cry," said Tyler, 21. "He would say he felt alone, that he wasn't accepted for the things he liked."

It was in the sixth grade that people first started calling him "fag," the Fehrs said.

And sometime after talking to his parents, who were away on a trip, about his relationship that had just ended, and leaving a Facebook update reading "New Years is stupid", Jeffrey hanged himself.

Granite Bay teen who committed suicide was bullied for being gay [sacramento bee]

If you or someone you know needs support, please don’t hesitate to call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386.


  1. Matt26 says

    I feel so sad and bad. In the pic, smiling, lovely looking guy and then… I don’t understand. Why?

  2. David C. Jones says

    When we name and ‘martyr’ suicide perpetrators we create a culture of copy cat suicides. It is called The Werther Effect.

    Post photos of the bullies – shame them if you must post pictures – but don’t keep promoting suicide victims. Suicide should not be promoted.

    Or this cycle of dead kids will just keep growing and growing because of The Werther Effect.

  3. KP says

    One of the worst things about suicide is how often it is a spur of a moment kind of thing. Have you ever been so angry you feel like punching a wall? The feeling lasts only a moment. Unfortunatly for many people the urge to kill themselves is only momentary. There are scores and scores of stories of suicide survivors saying they regret their decision to try and kill themselves. Its a problem that greatly stymies suicide prevention – the feeling might be fleeting but the action is permanent. My hearts breaks for Jeffery and especially his family – they will never be able to come to terms with this and it will affect them for the rest of their lives.

  4. Syrax says

    (“I teach the practice of the Golden Rule,” Kalman said. “When you’re bullied, don’t get upset about it. Treat the bully like a friend, like you want to be treated, and the bullying will stop.”)

    Unfortunately, that never works. I’m heterosexual and my brother is gay but I was the one bullied for perceived homosexuality my whole life. I honestly didn’t care, but it never stopped. Only one time it stopped, and that was when I confronted the idiot.

  5. classychazy says

    I am sick of hearing “bullied to death”! If you allow the ignorance of others rule your life that is on YOU! I was bullied on a daily basis from the 6 grade on by students and teachers. I was called things like c**k sucker lover and I had a teacher tell me I was going to hell because I accepted my father as is. I tried to take my own life my senior year of high school, but it was not because of the name calling and fights that were started by others. It was because I was mentally ill. People who kill themselves do it because they are sick not that someone is calling them names!

  6. candideinnc says

    Ditto David Jones. I know ignoring the problem is not good, but I also think so much discussion of the “It gets better” campaign and suicides is unintentionally leading to more of these tragedies. School systems and legislators need to take this up, but let’s avoid encouraging copycat issues.

  7. Jesus says

    @ClassyChazy, I understand that your comments come from a very personal and probably painful place, and as someone who was bullied intensely during my youth and has suffered from some severe PTSD and suicidal thoughts at several points in my life, I can sort of understand your frustration, but you cannot blame the victims of bullying because it is not just personal.

    It’s not one person calling another person a faggot. The bully is operating in a culture of homophobia and institutionalized discrimination and heteronormacy. We need to dismantle those institutions and expose the culture that promotes such behavior before we ever have a chance at truly ending this type of bullying.

    In the mean time, blaming the victims or asking that they take responsibility for finding a way to overcome those institutionalized forms of discrimination can seem extremely overwhelming to those who do not have access to the resources necessary to withstand the torrents of abuse and bigotry some youth face, hence these tragic outcomes.

  8. Syrax says

    Yeah ClassyChazy, you are right because you’ve studied this and you’re the standard for measure. Do you honestly think the bullying doesn’t play a factor in making people “sick”? We are social animals. Our connections to, and acceptance by others are key to not only our survival but also to our happiness.

  9. classychazy says

    @Syrax I have studied this intensely during therapy session’s and studing psychology I & II. Words can hurt even more then a punch in the face, but ultimately it is your choice to listen and allow it to effect your day to day life. I am not blaming anyone, but we must all at some point be responsible for our own lives. I do believe bulling can play a part in making someone sick, but there are other underlining issues that help push someone over the edge.

  10. Francis says

    This shouldn’t be created into an issue of copycat suicides, and kids killing themselves because they want to be seen as martyrs. It should be made into the issue it truly is, which is the reality that these conservative/suburban areas are absolute hell for LGBTQ teens, that the message of anti-bullying and self-pride are not getting out to these communities and in fact these areas have gotten even worse for these teens as homosexuality has become more accepted in mainstream culture and gay visibility has increased, and that these teens feel completely alone, in despair, and without anyone and anywhere to turn to.

    I feel awful for Jeffrey’s family, they are understandably devastated and questioning their own parenting, what they did right and wrong and could have done better. It seems like the breakup he had with his ex-boyfriend could have been the final straw for Jeffrey. I don’t blame the parents in all of these tragic suicide incidents, but what’s clear is parental support alone isn’t enough, and the parents generally simply don’t know what to do to make things better for their children. Plus, it doesn’t seem like the middle and high schools Jeffrey went to did much of anything to prevent the abuse he had to deal with.

    It’s going to take a COMPLETE cultural change to see the reduction/end of these tragedies. Gay people in these suburban communities have to come out and make their voices heard. LGBTQ people/straight supporters have to create a culture of tolerance, either at school or outside of school, and give these kids a voice and people who they can talk to, relate to, and people who will understand fully where they are coming from. It’s not enough anymore to stand on the sidelines. We all have to take action, and make sure the most vulnerable among us are able to feel safe, and that LGBTQ children are able to grow up in a healthy manner.

  11. Ricco says

    So CLASSYCHAZY, does that mean you think we ought to do nothing to curb bullying?

    And what about people who are literally bullied to death, who are stabbed and shot to death, pistol whipped and tied to a fence and left to slowly die in sub-zero temperatures?

    Should that also be hung on the victim? Should we do nothing about that type of bullying?

    Here is the problem, CLASSYCHAZY, with comparing the slew of young people committing suicide with yourself.

    Firstly: although we, as a species, have an insane penchant to strive to be generic, and slaughter individuality in ourselves and others whenever and where ever we see it, as soon as we see it, each of us cope with stress according to our natures.

    Are you saying that you have no empathy for those who lack your particular scoping skills?

    Secondly: This is a different time. The world goes at an even faster pace than it did when I was a kid.

    C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia . . . The Problem of Pain . . . A Grief Observed) once remarked on the technology that allowed people to travel, in a matter of hours, from one continent to another, that while he thought it convenient, emotionally we were not equipped and that it added stress to our lives we only thought we were equipped to withstand.

    Something of that nature.

    I went though a VERY horrible time in school, from elementary school and all through high school. But not only school. I was bullied and sexually molested by older brothers too. And when I thought things would be different when I left home and got away from my old classmates, when I joined the military, everything would be different. I would be an adult, respected by peers with a common goal of defending our country.

    What a bitter disappointment it was to discover that American’s were not as American as I thought they were . . . that my country was not a great nation as I had always been told, that my old high school was actually very representative of America.

    I am sure that sad revelation did very little to improve my overall mental health . . . and this brings me to one other factor you do not seem to consider, CLASSYCHAZY.

    You talk about mental illness as if it sprung up spontaneously, as if mental illness had no correlation with a family of older brothers who raped you, parents who told you were worthless, or a father who beat your mother in front of you, or when at a time you are discovering who you are, working to forge an identity, finding your place in the world there would be no dibilitating affect when your peers and classmates bully and constantly harangue you.

    Apart from disorders like Bi-polar and Schizophrenia, mental illness is not spontaneous, rather cultivated through ones environment.

    There is a reason kids who have loving, supportive family’s are mentally more stable than those who do not.

    So while, like you, I may be tempted to compare these suicidal kids to myself, and wonder why they gave up when it appears I have suffered as much some of them, and more than others, I feel that my current mental health depends very much on the level of empathy I can feel for them, apart from myself.

    There is something quite precarious and scary in waiting for others to take up for you and make things better. And I think, despite your harsh words, or because of them, that you DO feel some small empathy for these kids, that it is your fear for them, and your own sense that you might not be with us today had you not done something to look after yourself, that makes you do hard, and seeming unsympathetic.

    But no one, not even you, gets through this life all on their own. If there is a Grand Designer, maybe he/she purposely decided that we would be responsible for one another . . . and when we do not, worse things than mental illness are in evidence.

  12. sara says

    I agree with you David. I have been concerned with the publicity of these suicides and the publicizing of the videos. This one is speculation anyways. His parents also say that he was upset over his recent breakup. His parents needed to have done more as they knew he was having problems from the 3rd grade.

    If you’re a parent of a bullied gay kid, get active with the school, bother them continuously about it. They’re a public servant & cannot say no to you. In the meantime, make the kids know that school is not their life. Find kids in the area having the same issues or join your local PFlAG & arrange for your kids to meet. Let them have activities outside of school where they can grow their self esteem.

    An example: I have a son who is not gay but had issues with ADHD. I knew he was never going to get positive feedback from his school & the number of school meetings & teacher calls attested to that. I decided to put him in a ton of outside activities from when he was young & found he was pretty good with sports. Coaches could put up with his excessive energy better & he got to feel good about something. He found something he liked & ended up making friends with lots of kids outside of his school & kept up with many of those friendships. He developed a lot of confidence & self esteem from dong things unrelated to school.

    If you have a child who is having problems at school, make sure he/she has another place they can go to where they can be safe & happy.

    Now I’ll have to think about what a child can do when he has non-supportive parents. But I think these kids need more than the it get better project.

  13. TJ says

    Interesting, CLASSY. You seem to be speaking from a position of strength, and good for you. You also seem to be speaking from experience, which makes your “it’s on you” stance a little odd to me – not much empathy from a person who has felt hopeless and knows what that’s like. When you studied psych, did you study learned helplessness? Did you study the parts of the brain and circuitry associated with helplessness? Depression can be a “sickness” affected by body chemistry and genetics. It can also be affected by circumstance. Enough negative circumstances piled on top of propensity can have devastating consequences. As mentioned above, there are institutional pressures over and above the immediate ones that add to the pile. Some people rise above adversity. Others are not so ready or skilled. I guess we should just blame people for not being strong rather than be a civilized, compassionate society.

  14. Javier says

    I don’t know the solution, but is it true that there are more gay suicides today than there were in the past, or is it that society cares more today and therefore gives more attention to these tragedies? I think the latter is the answer. In the 90’s, statistics showed that gay and bisexual kids were at a very high risk of attempting suicide, but society did not give much attention to this issue. 10 or 20 years ago gay and non-gender normative kids were killing themselves too, but you did not hear about it like today.

  15. Francis says

    It’s more of the latter than the former, Javier, but the problem is that these suicides are still happening in high numbers, and the overwhelming majority of them are happening in the same type of communities, and have the same sort of backstories. LGBTQ suicides have always been an issue, it’s true that now with an increased amount of visibility, with our community being more mainstream, it’s a concern that is getting attention it hadn’t before. But that attention isn’t stopping the bullying and the suicides, so that should tell us all it’s going to take a lot more than awareness, but some forceful maintained action, to prevent these tragedies from occurring.

  16. Bobby says

    Right now, I’m just sad. We lost our little brother, whether we personally knew him or not. It’s not time to pontificate, it’s time to mourn.

  17. Paul R says

    Of the most vicious, absurd comments I’ve read on this post—and that’s been at least five years, so there have been a lot—I cannot believe that people are blaming this kid or anyone who commits suicide.

    There are depths of despair, devastation, depression, whatever you want to call it, that some people experience that others do not. It is not rational, it is not correct. But try to show some empathy. Or don’t comment and show that you have none.

  18. Ricco says

    We are mourning, BOBBY. That is why we are here. People deal with grief in many ways. We do not know this beautiful young man, Jeffrey, who took his life, yet here we all are taking the time to comment on his life, and even argue with one another.

    We feel helpless, scared, and we are only doing what all people do when they feel helpless and scared . . . talk about it.

  19. marcos says

    This story comes as no surprise to me. The houses in Granite Bay are large and sometimes pretty, but it is a hot bed of religious fascism. It is home to a number of mega churches that imbue hate. During the prop 22 and 8 campaigns it was a sea of yes signs.

    A student employee of mine told me that the holy roller band instructor at Granite Bay High regularly made derogatory remarks about gays to his class.

  20. Brian Engel says

    I’m a straight senior citizen who’s been gay friendley since I knew what “gay” was. These stories cause me to tear-up. I go 100 percent with David’s idea. Post photos of the bullies!

  21. zeddy says

    The only thing that can be done is to stop promoting suicides. Jeez…hasn’t anyone seen the movie Heathers??

  22. billy W says

    Just another kid murdered by the words of the southern evangelicals and the catholic church.

    the people who talk about protecting life.

    BTW the evangelicals / southern baptists were the bullwark of slavery and gave us the KKK and segregation.

    the roots of that church are the anything but “reformed dutch church” (of the past) = who gave south africa slavery.

    As for the catholic church, here’s how they protected life in Germany in the 1930s and up till 1945

    and where was the pope born and grew up?

  23. anon says

    Again, suicide rates in the US are a bit lower than other countries where social norms are more gay friendly. You would expect the opposite to occur, but no. The primary risk factor is being white, particularly Eastern European, and with a large minority population, the US has a lower suicide rate. Stopping bullying, while a nice goal, will not reduce suicide rates.

  24. says

    Bullying means to hurt a person, those people who hurts others, that means they break a heart. God lives in our heart. I hope you can understand what i am going to say, to hurt a person it is very big sin than other sins. Any way if we are well educated and have an understanding , than we should not tease to any one else and we have to teach such a lesson to our childeren as they become mature and as they behave good, feel and realize the others problems. Thats all. i am the so sorry for that sweet guy who realy could not face bullying problem. I love u all.