A 17-year old from Mountain Green, Utah, has killed himself due to homophobic bullying, local media organisations report.
Jack Reese is not the first person to have taken his own life in Northern Utah. One official spoke off-the-record to Marian Edmonds of Ogden OUTreach: “It happens here about once a week, but officially, you know, it doesn’t happen here.”
Jack’s boyfriend, Alex Smith, spoke early in the week at a community event during which a film on bullying was being screened. Smith recalled, without even realising that Jack had already taken his own life, how his boyfriend was repeatedly bullied at school.
Yesterday, ahead Jack’s funeral at Ogden this morning, OUTreach, announced that an urgent meeting will be held on May 1, to address LGBT bullying and suicide in Northern Utah. Several community leaders, teachers, parents, and young people are expected to attend, including active members of the Mormon Church.
“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,” Ms Edmonds said in a statement.
At the request of Alex, a candlelit vigil will be held at the conclusion of the event in memory of Jack.