Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Utah Teen Bullied To Death: Emergency Community Summit Called

Jack Reese, 18, latest victim of school bullying against LGBT students.

Ogden, Utah – Last Monday, another gay teenager from Utah took his life in response to intolerable bullying because of his sexual orientation.  Q Salt Lake reports that Jack Reese, 18, of Mountain Green is the latest casualty in the war on gay teenagers taking place in the nation’s schools.  With heartbreaking coincidence, Reese’s boyfriend, Alex Smith, spoke on Reese’s experiences with school bullying to a community event focused on the problem of bullying–without the knowledge that the love of his life had already taken his own life earlier that day. Details of Reese’s death have not been released to the public at this time.

According to Ogden OUTreach, a local LGBT youth service organization, the rate of gay teen suicide in Utah is fully 8 times the national average.  A North Utah mother of a gay son appeals to parents in the community the community in the wake of Reese’s bullycide to wake up and take action against the epidemic of suicide sweeping so many queer youth away.  Allison Black writes to her fellow parents, in part: “Our local community and churches do not always make it easy to openly accept our LGBT (lesbian, gay, transgender, and bi-sexual) friends, family members, and loved ones.  The bullying and suicides need to stop. Parents please do not let outside influences tell you that your gay child is evil or broken.  Follow your heart.”

The Rev. Marian Edmonds, director of Ogden OUTreach, says that in an “off-the-record” comment by a local official, a gay teen takes his or her life at the rate of once a week, though it does not get reported that way to the press.  In a statement to the media, Edmonds said: “The youth I work with all know either a victim of bullying, the loss of a friend to suicide, and most often, both. These youth are bright, creative and loving, yet too often face daily abuse from rejecting families, bullies at school and the loss of their church family. It is time for local schools to incorporate proven techniques for eliminating bullying and homophobia, for churches to preach love and acceptance, and for parents and families to love and accept their children. Each loss of life is a loss for all of us, and it must stop now.”

An emergency community summit aimed at stopping the spread of gay teen suicides due to bullying has been called in Ogden for May 1.  Speakers will include parents from Ogden PFLAG, local opinion leaders, faith leaders, and active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the predominant religious influence throughout the area.  At Alex Smith’s request, a candlelight vigil will be held at the end of the summit in memory of Reese. Rev. Edmonds decries the situation that is robbing Ogden and North Utah of its young people.  “Each loss of life is a loss for all of us, and it must stop now,” she said. Liz Owen, director of PFLAG national, summed up the challenge facing us all: “Sadly, the death of Jack Reese is a reminder that there is still much work to be done.”

April 29, 2012 - Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bullycide, Bullying in schools, gay teens, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, Social Justice Advocacy, suicide, Utah, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. [...] Unfinished Lives writes: “Last Monday, another gay teenager from Utah took his life in response to intolerable bullying because of his sexual orientation. Q Salt Lake reports that Jack Reese, 18, is the latest casualty in the war on gay teenagers taking place in the nation’s schools. [...]

    Pingback by Another Bullycide « milkboys – The Boys Blog | April 30, 2012 | Reply

  2. This is a sad thing to see happening across the world, where a group of small minded people go out with their pitch forks with no reason, bullying a young man, who is doing nothing wrong.
    Sexuality is a personal preference and in no way shape nor form does it reflect on anybodies ability outside their personal worlds as they function on a daily basis.
    How dare it be allowed to come to this, the word bully simply does not emphasise the effect that bullies have on people, it certainly does not show the damage that is being caused by groups of people forming these clans or groups of bullies, who are making life impossible for some, forcing them to take their own lives!
    There needs to be an end to this madness, and people need to stop and think just what their words or actions are causing on a larger scale!
    There is certainly no glory in being responsible for making a person end their own lives, and to those out there who seem to find it amusing, I have one thing to say, which is get a life!

    Comment by Angel O'Fire | April 30, 2012 | Reply

  3. I knew Jack Reese since preschool, he was a wonderful person. I am so sorry for the pain he suffered. He and his family and Alex are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Comment by Becky Mendenhall | April 30, 2012 | Reply


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