Hundreds attend vigil for US gay student who jumped from bridge

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Hundreds of people joined a vigil last night for 19-year-old student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself after his sexual encounter with a man was streamed online without his knowledge.

The Rutgers University freshman jumped from the George Washington Bridge on September 22nd. It is thought that the shy, quiet student was worried about his sexuality becoming known.

Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro, New Jersey, and Molly W Wei of Princeton have been charged with invasion of privacy after they allegedly streamed the footage on the internet.

Before the vigil for Clementi, held on campus, Rutgers president Richard L McCormick said in a statement: “We grieve for him and for his family, friends, and classmates as they deal with the tragic loss of a gifted young man who was a strong student and a highly accomplished musician.

“This silent vigil will be an opportunity to come together in this difficult time to reaffirm our commitment to the values of civility, dignity, compassion, and respect for one another.”

The student’s parents Joe and Jane Clementi also released a statement, which said: “Regardless of legal outcomes, our hope is that our family’s personal tragedy will serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity.

“Needless to say, public attention has been intense. The outpouring of emotion and support from our friends, community and family – and from people across the country – has been humbling and deeply moving.”

In the last three weeks, three other American teenagers have committed suicide after suffering homophobic bullying. They are Asher Brown, 13, of Texas, Seth Walsh, 13, of Minnesota, and Billy Lucas, 15, of Indiana.

Meanwhile, Raymond Chase, a 19-year-old studying at Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island, hanged himself last week. It is not yet known whether he had suffered bullying.

On Friday, 500 people attended a vigil for Seth Walsh.

It is unclear whether suicides for young gay men are up, or if there has been better reporting of their deaths. LGBT students are known to be at a higher suicide risk than their heterosexual peers.