Celebs speak out on teen suicides
October 1st, 2010
10:49 AM ET

Celebs speak out on teen suicides

The recent suicides committed by young people within the past month has prompted a wave of response calling for more proactive measures to prevent bullying, and celebs are among those speaking out.

In a blog post, Ellen DeGeneres says she’s “devastated” over the death of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after a video of his sexual encounter with another man was streamed online.

“Something must be done,” DeGeneres writes. “This month alone, there have been a shocking number of news stories about teens who have been teased and bullied and then committed suicide. Like 13-year-old Seth Walsh in Tehachapi, California, 13-year-old Asher Brown in Cypress, Texas and 15-year-old Billy Lucas in Greensberg, Indiana. This needs to be a wake up call to everyone that teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country, and the death rate is climbing.”

Blogger Perez Hilton, inspired by columnist Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” initiative, has “reached out to every celebrity possible” to get them involved in making videos as he did to encourage those who may be suffering from sexuality-related bullying. So far, videos have come in from the likes of R&B songstress Ciara and media personality LaLa Vazquez; “America’s Next Top Model’s” Jay Manuel; and Hilton said the cast of “Glee” has agreed to work on a video as well.

"If you're gay, bisexual, transgender, I know it can be tough in high school dealing with people who might not understand who you are," Vazquez says in her video with Ciara. "We just want to let you know that it does get better. We were in high school once, and we know how mean people can be who just don't understand certain things."

“ANTM's” Manuel says that from his vantage point at the age of 38, he can assure young adults struggling with bullying that it will get better.

“When someone calls you a name and they call you gay and they call you queer or whatever they call you, remember that at the end of the day, you can go off and be a success all on your own,” he advises in his video.

DeGeneres believes that as a society, “We have an obligation to change this. There are messages everywhere that validate this kind of bullying and taunting and we have to make it stop. We can't let intolerance and ignorance take another kid's life.”

And to the youth who may be contemplating suicide, DeGeneres encourages them that “Things will get easier, people's minds will change, and you should be alive to see it.”

If a kid you know has been a victim of bullying, let us know your thoughts on this problem with an iReport.

Filed under: Celebrities

soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. ashley

    i know how it feels to want to die. im only 14 years old and i have two friends who have committed suicide. it sucked to see them go. one of them was very talented and she just died on January 7th. she couldve been a professional singer if she tried. the other one was extremely smart. he wanted to be a spinal surgeon and i know if he didnt do what he did he wouldve been very successful. things do get better. i promise you. its only been a year since i tried to commit suicide and since then its gotten a million times better.

    January 14, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. liberty reserve

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    January 5, 2012 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. Stephen Oropallo

    My sons Band wrote the song “It’s not over” a day in a teens life when they decide life isn’t worth living. But we all know Suicide…It’s never an option. It currently is on the San Diego Unified School Districts Suicide Prevention web page. Take a look and Help get the message out. It’s not over!

    and http://www.sandi.net/Page/26766

    November 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
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    September 7, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Rosendo Berg

    Good post! jfoprhggf

    March 4, 2011 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. Travis Lee

    As everyone else i have grief for the parents of the suicide victims. I am a 16 year old living in Naples, FL and im gay, i have made the uneasy decision to drop out due to the extreme amount of bullying Ive had to face, I'm sure i will regret this decision in the future, but i had no where else to turn. Sure i could have went to the office for help, but that got me no where when i did it before. i hope we can stop this bullying, i am willing to do what ever it take to stop this from happening, I hope we can someday put a face on this situation, and STOP THIS, so that kids in the future dont have to face the decision Ive made. LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE!!! – Travis Lee

    October 11, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Princess

    I just want to add. it doesnt matter how big you are or how well you can handle yourself. because this isnt about you, its about these kids with deep hearted issues that they cant handle. instead of you telling everybody how strong you are and how well you can handle yourself and making other people look bad, why dont you be the bigger one and stick to the topic and find a way to mentor these kids before they end their lives. teach them how to think the way you do without rubbing it in other peoples faces.

    October 6, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Responsible

    It is a tragedy and this did not have to happen. CNN and other journalism is failing to cover the root cause of these senseless acts of hate. Where do these kids get the idea that it is okay to act without any regards to the other people if they are gays? THAT, is the real issue and CNN, you are FAILING to report on this subject. Why wouldn't you go interview the anti-gay organizations and ask their views on bullying gay kids? Ask those politicians with so called anti-"gay agenda" about bullying the gay kids? Ask these comedians who make living making fun of anything gays. Ask yourselves does your first amendment overweighs someone else's kids' lives? We all are responsible for Tyler's death and unless we realize that this senseless acts of disrespect will continue. And journalists who do not report the sad state of the nation/world are not covering the whole story and just as guilty of spreading the disrespects and hates.

    October 2, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sara

    Straight or gay, Black or white, Green or Purple, short tall, fat or skinny, etc, etc. No matter what, No one should have to be bullied for anything, at any time, any where. People who bully must have a self worth issue.

    October 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Holly

    My heart aches for the teenagers and adults who feel there lives are worth so little. Suicide should never be a solution. Yes it does put an end to the pain you are experiencing, but it is the people you leave behind that continue to suffer. My own family has been torn apart by suicide, and loosing someone you love is a never ending cycle of anger, guilt, and depression. At times it may seem like you are all alone, but there are people out there that love you, and they can help you. Seek these people out and tell them what is happening to you. Don't worry about burdening them with you problems, allow them to help you.

    October 2, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ForMaggie


    October 2, 2010 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  12. Frank

    In closing, I would just like to say: F\_/CK YOU, CNN!

    October 2, 2010 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  13. Frank

    Most people at this point are in a ch#mically ind*ced h@ze and think life is like a video game or a movie. Something very insid!ous is going on this world and we are heading for full collapse. It's only going to get worse, too. You haven't seen anything yet.

    October 2, 2010 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. Frank

    This is a symptom of a pern!cious v!rus r@v@ging our society. Our society is n!hilistic, d#ath-obsessed and d#ath-w0rshipping. Life means nothing in this world where sn*ff films, s@x traff!cking, t0rt*re and sl@very run rampant.

    October 2, 2010 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Frank

    S*icide is indeed an ep!demic, but as a member of the LGBT community, I will admit that this is a far-reaching problem that effects people no matter their orientation or g#nder ident!ty. It shouldn't be politicized by celebrities. It's nice they speak on it, but still.

    October 2, 2010 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  16. Frank

    Perez Hilton being involved in this campaign completely kills its credibility and ruins it for me.

    October 2, 2010 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Will Sawyer

      Really Frank, what is your reasoning for that? Perez Hilton is a voice for both good and bad and he has a following of many million people that listen to him. So if he is using his voice to spread the word about GLBT suicide and offer hope, how can you possibly condemn the entire project based on his involvement? That is a knee jerk reaction by a less than clear thinking person. While I might not be a worshipper of Perez Hilton, I will accept help for our comunnity wherever it comes from. At least he is doing something possitive with his voice.

      October 2, 2010 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  17. Matt

    I, too, was subjected to periodic ridicule during the socialization process. My internalized weakness and reliance on others to validate my sense of self-worth prevent me from enjoying my life and being successful. I believe it is important that everyone know that we can transcend the bigoted limits placed on us by our biological and sociological history as a species by legislating them away, but I'm too sad to do anything but troll message-boards. Don't be unenlightened: every human life is precious...except if you're a zygote.

    October 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  18. L

    OK . did some of u mis kindagarden the part or rules to remember 1. be nice 2. look bothways before crossing the street and hold hands

    October 1, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Laura

    I was teased as a kid. I was told by teachers to ignore it. I was called a dike, and barked @ by another girl in my class. I am not gay. But something needs to be done about it. As for what the Bible teaches,its wrong to sin, Jesus forgives, and we must do our best to live a good life. And that includes doing what is right. Even if you are gay. It is not a sin to be gay. But is a sin to be in a gay relationship. Its a sin to live together without being married first. But I cannot say that I have a right to judge anyone. That is up to God.

    October 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Laura

    Unless you have been a victim of bullying, you really have no idea of the impact. I am a victim, not as a teen, not as a gay, but of workplace bullying, When a new office manager took over bullied me everyday. She had her own little circle of friends and she wanted me out!!! She tried very hard to break my spirit, she would laugh at me and make everyone think I was losing it! Well thank God one of her circle of friends finally confided in me that indeed she was trying to make me quit. She degraded me so bad I still to this day have anxiety just thinking about it. I had been working in my position for 15 years, I was very dedicated. I remember it like it was yesterday, and it has been 5 years now. Katrina took away my job, however, my memory of that time in my life was horrible. I am an adult 53 y/o, it can happen to anyone.

    October 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Joe

    Puck? As in the character from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"? That's a pretty gay reference.

    October 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  22. H.R. Hudson

    To Maggie: Hateful and intolerant people like you are the reason I left the church. I find it sad that in 2010, taunting, bullying and teasing are still going on in school. We'll never know what kind of positive contribution Tyler Clementi may have had on this world. Because a couple of jerks taped something that was NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS!!! How many suicides have to take place before we arrive at a place of tolerance in this country??? My condolences to the Clementi Family.

    October 1, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Lexi

    Why does it have to come down to being gay? Bullying is a problem in our school systems for all kids not just those who are gay. There are thousands of kids that go to school on a daily basis that are tortured for being fat, thin, a bookworm, wearing glasses and the list goes on. I do feel sorry for those who are being picked on but not just those who are gay. We have an epidemic in the school system and it needs to be dealt with. We live in a society that is becoming more and more aggressive and abusive which is past down to our children who are only doing that which they see or experience in their homes, on television, etc. I applaud those who home school to protect their children from bullying!!!

    October 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will Sawyer

      The simple reason we need to pay attention to gays who are bullied is the sheer number of them who committ suicide thinking they will never fit in and that no one will ever accept them. They are not only bullied in school and in public, they are often bullied by their families. When something you cannot control, that is so much part of the fabric of who you are as an indivual, is so hated by your so called peers and family that the only escape you see is suicide, then we as a society have failed. Suicide rates among gay teens are shockingly higher than among their straight counter parts. So it is not just that we are bringing up the gay issue, we are simply not willing to let our brothers and sisters who are facing extremely loneliness be swept under the rug. People like you are part of the problem, instead of offering real solutions you jump on the gay issue. Five kids are dead! Dead! Their lives are gone and their blood is in the hands of the friends and family who did not want them if they were gay. Well sister, we want them. We want them to live lives loving who they were born to be!

      October 2, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      So true Lexi. What about the little 15 yr old girl from Massechusetts that hung herself earlier this year. She wasn't gay, just a victim of terrible bullying. I agree the people who did the bullying should be held accountable. We should not only be speaking up for bullying againsts gays, but teens and children in general. This happens to all kinds of teens from all walks of life. I think it is worse these days because of all the social networking sites and internet. Teens have used these things to bully other teens.

      I am a christian and the bible says to love one another. Nowhere in the bible are there conditions stated for love. We are not to love based on conditions, but to love unconditionally. The bible doesn't say to only love someone if they share the same beliefs as you or go to the same church as you or live the same life as you, the bible says to just love.

      October 5, 2010 at 4:32 am | Report abuse |
    • gsonc

      I absolutely agree with Will. I just want to add that gay teens are 4 TIMES MORE LIKELY to commit suicide than other teens. I absolutely understand what these teens are going through being a gay man myself. I tried to drive myself into a telephone pole when I was 17. It's just one of those things that nobody can truly understand unless they have been through it themselves. I do agree with Lexi that bullying needs to stop on all levels!

      October 2, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Stephen

    I'm a 38yr old hispanic gay male. I grew up being bullied by classmates and even family members at times. It was very hard at times and a learning experience for me. I came out at 21yrs old and I remember my twin brother telling me he was sorry for making fun of me back than. I knew I was "different" very early in age but continued to be myself.

    I've been openly gay ever since. I'm happy in life. Had a 12yr releationship that ended a couple of years ago but loved every moment of it, fostered kids, and was ready to adopt at one point.

    I wish the kids that committed suicide would've had a chance to experience it.

    October 1, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Nona

    To Maggie and What: you are nothing but BIGOTS and it is b/c of people like YOU that many children are terrified of going to school. I am so glad that I live in a place in America where crap like yours isn't tolerated. It is b/c of people like YOU that the term "WHITE TRASH" is synonymous with America. Go STFU.

    October 1, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Patty

    To maggie and 'what'. Go back to school and get a decent education and learn about tolerance and acceptance. It is terrible that it is 2010 and people are still intolerant of others. I wish that there were more people out there like my parents. Ever since I was younger my parents always told me and my siblings that they will love and accept the way we are, gay or straight.

    October 1, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • What

      Dont worry my education = yours and then some. Everything is not acceptable. If so what next will you do?

      October 1, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Will Sawyer

    I remember feeling so helpless and alone as a teenager dealing with the constant knowledge that everyone was right about me know matter how much I tried to hide it. I was physically and emotionally assaulted all through my school years and by my own father and family. It is a place that is so lonely. Everyone hates you for something you cannot control. I am mystified at the so called Christians who so fervently celebrate the death of lonely teens, apparently they would have walked right past the good summaritan and missed Jesus. Since they have clearly missed who he supposedly was in the first place.

    October 1, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Steve

    nice article & already two mean spirited people have dumped on it

    so much hate out there, but it will never break the spirit of the LGBT community

    October 1, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Rob W.

    I was bullied mercilessly in high school and I'm still picking up the pieces of my shattered life more than a decade later. From what I've seen bulliying has gotten much more widespread and cruel, and now bullies have embraced technology. Perhaps suicide is the only way out as there seems to be no hope for improvement.

    October 1, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Patty

      Rob, there are a lot of people that can help you if you really think that there is no hope for improvement in your life. 1-800-273-8255

      October 1, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Stephen Habgood

    I lost my only son Christopher to suicide on the 2 March 2009 so I can appreciate something of the overwhelming sense of loss that the parents of these young people are experiencing. I recognised that I could little for my son so I now work for a UK charity called Papyrus, that seeks to prevent young suicides. You clearly need something similar in the USA to work to halt this terrible waste of young lives, whether from bullying or depression or whatever.
    Kind regards

    October 1, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Janet Moses

      My deepest sympathies go out to you for your loss. The situation here in America has gotten out of control. I have 5 kids and they have all experienced bullying to one degree or another. I remember one incident in particular where I firmly believe I came within one moment of losing my son. He could not face school on that day... just broke down in tears and refused to budge. I didn't force him. He stayed home that day and we talked.... and talked and talked and talked. I am grateful every day for that chance. Thank you for what you are doing and I wish you the BEST of luck.

      October 4, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sara

      I am very sorry for your loss. We do have many groups and programs to help, but sometimes!

      October 2, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Stephanie

    Something has to be done to stop this bullying. This is completely inexcusable. Why would anyone think this is acceptable behavior out of anyone?

    October 1, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  32. jocost

    Things will get better. My heart is heavy for these parent. What gives people the right to make another human being life less meaningful. My first response if there needs to be laws in place and people need to be educating. Being gay is not a disease. In the real would we need to get along with everyone even if they are different or if we don't like them. Keeping our eye close and mouths close is not doing any good. In order to have a healthy world there needs to be a melting pot of different people, such as gender, relegion and race. That is what make America great.

    October 1, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |

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