Rutgers Suicide: Internet Humiliation Trauma for Teen

Death comes on heels of suicides by younger, bullied gay teens.

ByABC News
September 30, 2010, 12:25 PM

Sept. 30, 2010— -- When Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi jumped to his death last week from the George Washington Bridge, he may have been reacting to a constellation of factors related to sexuality, public bullying and humiliation that put adolescents and young adults at a particularly high risk for suicide, mental health experts said.

Clementi, a shy, quiet 18-year-old and talented violinist who grew up in Ridgewood, N.J., is believed to have been caught on camera during an intimate encounter with a young man in his dorm room. His roommate, 18-year-old Dharun Ravi, allegedly streamed video of the two on the Internet and announced his alleged surreptitious behavior on the social networking site Twitter.

Three days later, Clementi posted a short farewell message on his Facebook page: "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry." His family subsequently confirmed the suicide.

According to the 2005 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, teens who identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, or who report having any same-sex sexual contact, are four times more likely to have attempted suicide in the past year than their straight classmates. And the 2009 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) shows that nine out of 10 lesbian, bisexual and transgender middle and high school students report having been harassed.

The extent to which the public revelations of Clementi's sexual encounter influenced his decision to take his own life remains to be fully understood. But his death comes on the heels of several recently publicized suicides among younger gay teens who were bullied and humiliated at school: