Bullying | Deaths | Education | Gay Youth | Utah

Seventeen-Year-Old Jack Reese Committed Suicide Near Ogden, Utah: Rally Planned

563157Another gay teen committed suicide last week. This was in Mountain Green, Utah, just east of the small city of Ogden. If the the Ogden Standard-Examiner is any indication at all, it seems like a pretty awful place to grow up gay.

The young man's name was Jack Denton Reese. He was 17. He died last Sunday. Shortly after Mr. Reese killed himself, his boyfriend, 18-year-old Alex Smith, was slated to speak on a "community panel" following a screening of Bully, discussing Mr. Reese's difficulties with anti-gay bullying in school. Smith had apparently completed the discussion before he learned the news.

There shall be an event -- a kind of half-memorial, half-rally -- at 6:30 p.m. on May 1st at the Ogden Amphitheater (343 E. 25th Street, Ogden) so that community members might, according to a press release:

... stand in solidarity with (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) LGBT youth, to speak out and express grief and outrage at yet another loss of life in Northern Utah and to witness for the need for immediate change in schools, churches and society. Until ALL youth are loved and accepted in their homes, able to attend school without fear of bullying, and know that their lives are worth living, this community will continue to demand change.

Numerous community leaders, educators, parents and youth will speak out for acceptance and love for LGBT youth, including active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the request of Alex Smith, a candlelight vigil in memory of Jack Reese will be held at the conclusion of the event.

According to Mr. Reese's obit:

Jack was very good with computers and loved to play his X-Box games. He enjoyed skiing, four wheeling in the mountains and working with plants. Jack loved animals and will miss his cat, Cat. He was also very good with kids and loved taking care of them. Jack was learning to speak Japanese and loved anything to do with Japan. He was also very good at drawing and photography. 

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  1. I would express my thoughts on the people who caused this sad death, but Thorpe's on, so he'd just suppress them.

    Posted by: enough already | Apr 29, 2012 10:55:09 AM

  2. "Suppress"? In what way?

    - BKT

    Posted by: Brandon K. Thorp | Apr 29, 2012 11:09:36 AM

  3. So very sad.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Apr 29, 2012 11:26:43 AM

  4. There's so much left out of these stories. Where was his support [family/friends/organizations] system? He had a B.F., did he confide in him is suicidal desire? Did he in turn force Jack to get serious, professional mental health support? Was he on psychotropic drugs like SSRIs and anti-anxiety medications? Did he have any illegal substance abuse problem? I'm personally convinced many popular prescription drugs, especially psychotropic and anti-anxiety medications, have very harmful side-effects in especially young adults, and this is covered up for $ reasons.

    Handsome young man. R.I.P.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Apr 29, 2012 11:37:00 AM

  5. This is just so sad.

    Posted by: Mickey | Apr 29, 2012 11:48:16 AM

  6. Jack had EIGHT siblings, a mom and dad, grandparents, etc.! He could find no comfort among his huge family, friends, B.F.? Was he disowned? Doesn't sound like it. I personally have a very good friend who was abandoned by his drug addict mom at birth, never knew who his father was, has no immediate family, was raised in foster care, and to top it off, he's gay. He's had a very difficult life. But he's alive and functions well. Actually, one of the nicer guys you'd ever want to meet. Suicidal folks, please think of the people you'll hurt, and the things that make your life worth living. I'm sure the good will far outweigh the negative.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Apr 29, 2012 11:56:26 AM

  7. @RATBASTARD When one is suicidal sometimes not even the thought of those that you're leaving behind is enough to make you want to stay. He had a family, friends, a boyfriend and yet he still decided to take his life. I was there once. On a bridge ready to jump. Now, 15 years later, I'm so very glad that I didn't do it. Somehow, from somewhere, I found the will to stay. Some don't. And that's very sad.

    Posted by: Gigi | Apr 29, 2012 12:30:58 PM

  8. This, like all the other young suicides, just makes me profoundly sad.

    Posted by: Bobby | Apr 29, 2012 12:32:21 PM

  9. As a former Mormon and having lived in Utah, I know that outside of Salt Lake City, and even in the city, being Gay can be dangerous. I lay the blame for this with the Mormon church which practices a theocracy in the state of Utah. Nothing passes the legislature without the approval of "The Church" as everyone in Utah calls it. When you live there you tend to forget that there's a whole world out there that could care less what Mormon church leaders have to say on anything. The looking-the-other-way-attitude when people they hate are being violated, is typical Mormon behavior. They'll be the first to protest and tell you how much they love you but their actions don't show it.

    Posted by: Brad | Apr 29, 2012 12:38:40 PM

  10. It is important to remember that people this age are not fully mature. They simply do not have the mental structure to reflect upon 'the rest of their lives' or 'how this will hurt others'.
    That is why they are so vulnerable.

    Which, of course, the christians know - they know exactly what they are doing when they bully these young gays.

    Posted by: enough already | Apr 29, 2012 12:41:57 PM

  11. Anyone know why this is tagged with "Jiří Tlustý"?

    Posted by: KevinVT | Apr 29, 2012 12:53:45 PM

  12. RAT - Your friend is not all people. Possible does not always mean probable.

    That being said, WTF!? His boyfriend is part of a panel on bullying, speaking as this poor kid has freshly offed himself? I hope someone is keeping a close eye on the boyfriend. Too much to hear. Too much to bear. Too much to read about, yet again.

    Posted by: TJ | Apr 29, 2012 12:57:40 PM

  13. What TJ said-I cannot say it better

    Posted by: jhr459 | Apr 29, 2012 1:20:28 PM

  14. There is no point in speculating because none of us were there when Jack was being bullied, none of us saw what he was going through, and none of us know the pain he was in that led to this tragedy. We just don't know. When someone has been pushed to the point of no return, then there is little that is "enough" for them to change their minds.

    What we do know is that LGBTQ teens in conservative/rural areas are still committing suicide in too high of numbers. That gay bashings in these areas are increasing, and that even with the national focus on the issue of gay rights and anti-bullying campaigns, even with society at large becoming more progressive on this issue, little has changed where change is most needed. And until that change is initiated in these communities where homophobia is most prevalent, we're going to continue to wake up to the tragic stories of LGBTQ teens in these areas committing suicide. That's the reality. Sometimes,

    I'm extremely, extremely sad but I also feel disappointment. I feel almost despair myself, a little discouragement. I just don't know how many more children have to die in this culture war until this barrage of hate brought forth by social conservatives is done away with.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 29, 2012 1:23:05 PM

  15. "We as a society are sending a message to today’s youth. We celebrate the Hemingways, van Goghs and Cobains of the world as superstars — martyrs who chose to die for their art — instead of acknowledging that they were simply people who failed to realize all the reasons for which they had to live.

    The world’s most famous love story even goes so far as to romanticize suicide, as both Romeo and Juliet kill themselves at the thought of having to live without one another.

    If the aforementioned references seem a bit dated, look no further than the popular Twilight Saga for something more current. The series’ protagonist, Bella, an isolated teenager who has problems adjusting to the rigors of moving to a new town and school, ultimately tries to kill herself after her boyfriend breaks up with her.

    It’s a sad statement for our culture that such icons are glorified and revered for their actions, because people’s reactions to suicide in real life are a stark contrast.

    We’ve created a society that espouses the virtues of death over life, and it’s now taking its toll on people too young to see through the lie. Children need to understand that there is nothing romantic or noble about suicide, and the only way they’ll receive that message is if we deem it necessary to tell them."

    Posted by: David C. Jones | Apr 29, 2012 1:24:44 PM

  16. Yet another such death is extremely embarrassing to the Mormon Church which wants to be seen as an aspect of the American mainstream. Nowadays they are doing more than ever before to "adjust" to the existence of gay people who, nevertheless, as a group, defy their very rules FOR existence, thus their own existence itself. Same for the Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Orthodox Jews, Baha'i, even the Buddhists. Our existence is ultimately an affront to virtually all orthodxies, including political ones, which makes us warriors on the front lines of the evolution of human consciousness. Young Jack Reese is another tragic loss for us but we may honor his role in the way forward which is filled with the unfallen, and which will prevail.

    In my wild dreams I imagine that Jack's boyfriend Alex Smith might take up the banner of tolerance for all and help lead the way. And in our own manner we must all do the same as we follow the most reliable lead of all which is the indomitable feeling of love and attraction we have towards members of our own sex. Amazing isn't it. That's all this is all about.

    RIP young Jack, you have played a part.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Apr 29, 2012 1:56:23 PM

  17. How can the mormons -- or any other reigion -- eevr be embarassed by the death and suffering they cause? It's not in them.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 29, 2012 2:04:35 PM

  18. UFFDA - I want no more martyrs to the cause. I want no more youth playing a part by paying with their lives. There is no silver lining here. It's just plain f**king sad. It's just a f**king waste.

    Posted by: TJ | Apr 29, 2012 2:06:59 PM

  19. Tears of sadness, tears of sadness. Everyone can laugh at me if you want. I have a dream that one day I will win one of those super mega millions lottery and I will take the money and open a residential middle and high school for children who are bullied. Gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender youth can flee their judgmental Evangelical and Catholic families and grow up in peace and harmony with staff who love and care for them. At this school they would belong and feel good about themselves.

    Posted by: StraightGrandmother | Apr 29, 2012 2:23:42 PM

  20. As someone who spent a good part of his childhood in Ogden, surrounded by the Mormon theocracy, I can definitely confirm Andy's assumption ... it's an awful, awful place to grow up gay.

    Posted by: Mark | Apr 29, 2012 3:17:50 PM

  21. Christians murdered Jack Reese.

    Posted by: Molc | Apr 29, 2012 4:01:37 PM

  22. In the words of another tragic young man, Ian Curtis:
    "Where will it end ?/Where will it end ?"

    And as we say:
    "Ar dheis De go raibh a anam"....( may his soul be at the right hand of God).

    Posted by: JackFkTwist | Apr 29, 2012 4:57:49 PM

  23. @ David Jones: There's nothing new under the sun. Al Alvarez wrote his study of suicide in Literature fifty years ago; "The Savage God".
    There are so many parallels in literature that it is impossible to avoid the faux romanticism of these terrible mistakes, Deirdre and the sons of Uishne; Tristan and Iseult;
    All that can be said is that we try to avoid the delusional siren call of similar copycat tragedies.But it is all so incredibly sad....
    I sometimes think that all the kids now know that bullying and being intimidated is not acceptable......but it seems that concept is now more rife than ever, facilitated by "social media" (sic).
    Where will it end, indeed.

    Posted by: JackFkTwist | Apr 29, 2012 5:09:55 PM

  24. News of these suicides just rip at my gut. They are our children in a way. Hopefully, the world will change suddenly ... and pigs will fly.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Apr 29, 2012 5:52:48 PM

  25. I really don't understand this gay teen suicide plague! Yes it's always been tough to grow up gay- hey it was tougher when I was in high school in the last century. Are we rushing to make martyrs of these dead children and making suicide seem "glamorous"?

    Posted by: jaragon | Apr 29, 2012 6:01:55 PM

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