October 1st, 2010
10:49 AM ET
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.
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