Queerty is better as a member

Log in | Register
  REST IN PEACE

Nearly 1,000 Gather To Mourn CA Teen Who Committed Suicide After Years Of Taunts

We’ve lost another gay teen.

In the early morning of New Year’s Day, 18-year-old Jeffrey Fehr hanged himself at his family’s Granite Bay, CA, home, reports the Sacramento Bee.

The accomplished teen’s suicide inspired an outpouring of grief at memorial services, attended by almost 1,000 people on Saturday.

“So many people gained strength from Jeff,” his father said at the funeral, looking out at the crowd. “The unfortunate part is that Jeff didn’t realize it.”

His father, Steve, thinks that years of anti-gay bullying was the reason he chose to end his life, though he had recently broken up with a boyfriend and had been treated for depression in the past.

“We will second-guess ourselves forever,” said Steve Fehr. “But we do know that for years and years, people knocked him down for being different. It damaged him. It wore on him. He could never fully believe how wonderful he was, and how many people loved him.”

Though Jeffrey came out as a sophomore and was accepted and embraced by his parents, he was the target of schoolyard abuse as early as the third grade. “He would come home from school and cry,” said older brother Tyler, 21. “He would say he felt alone, that he wasn’t accepted for the things he liked.”

By the sixth grade, classmates would call him “fag.” Jeffrey’s mother, Pati, said seeing her son abused like that “broke her heart”— she and Steve sent him to counseling for depression and tried to build his confidence by encouraging him to pursue art, theater and dance.

High school proved to be no haven. “He would literally hang his head when I dropped him off,” his father recalled. “It was just awful for him.” The taunts continued, and in one instance a classmate upended a lunch tray on Jeffrey as others laughed. Another time, someone painted the Fehr driveway  with anti-gay slurs.

Cheerleading, it seemed, was Jeffrey’s saving grace. As the Bee reports:

He joined the high school cheer squad, whose members previously had been all girls, and found a community that adored him. As a senior he was the team’s captain, and mastered handsprings, backflips and other feats. Later he joined an elite competitive team.”Cheer gave him a lot of acceptance, because it was something he was really good at,” said fellow squad member Shayla Chock, 16.

Jeffrey’s body grew strong and muscular, and at 6 feet, 3 inches tall he towered over his teammates. He flashed a brilliant smile and had a posse of close friends, mostly girls a couple of years younger than he.

“Jeff loved everyone with everything he had,” said his pal Carly Flajole, also 16. “He always wanted everyone to get along, without drama. He was a leader.”

In the week before his death, he drove to Los Angeles to visit his boyfriend. When he returned, he told his parents they had broken up, but didn’t seem too down about it. Steve and Pati were on their way out of town and urged Jeffrey not to stay at home alone for New Years. He didn’t listen and next day a neighbor found Jeffrey’s body hanging from a rope in the front entry.

While it will never heal their pain, we hope the Fehr family can take some solace from the outpouring of love and support on Saturday.

Photo via RIP Jeffrey Fehr

By:           Evan Mulvihill
On:           Jan 17, 2012
Tagged: , , ,

  • 25 Comments
    • Mike UK
      Mike UK

      what a very sad report, breaks your heart that these kids find suicide as the only way to find peace!

      Jan 17, 2012 at 4:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      “”His father, Steve, thinks that years of anti-gay bullying was the reason he chose to end his life, though he had recently broken up with a boyfriend and had been treated for depression in the past.””
      ______________

      Yes, and what do you think caused the depression in the past? Why has Queerty more than once presented that the depression these kids were feeling is somehow not related to years of bullying and attacks?

      Jan 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gorbeh
      Gorbeh

      :'(

      Jan 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David Smith
      David Smith

      Very sad posting. There are some people that just seem programmed to self-destruct. Nothing makes them happy- success, good lucks, popularity, family acceptance, therapy, medication, etc. To pin it on gay-hate is convenient but dishonest. Accept that some people are just damaged goods.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 7:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel
      Daniel

      Don’t get me wrong, it is sad when anyone is depressed to a point they feel no way out but taking their own life. However, this jumping n the bandwagon of “he did it because he was bullied” is getting old. Everyone, myself included doesn’t kill themselves because someone made fun of them for being gay. It sounds to be like the guy was just depressed.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mallori
      mallori

      You guys all know that this will never stop. What the gays and lesbians need to do is fight fire with fire.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • older
      older

      It is sad that someone couldn’t have pointed this young man to LA,SF or SD where he
      could have felt normal and overcome his anxieties and hopefully his depression. It would
      have done so much for his self-esteem.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 8:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gigi
      Gigi

      @Daniel: He was “just depressed” was he? Do you think perhaps part of the depression was due to the homophobic bullying? Lots of us get bullied and survive but some, like this poor young man, just find it all too overwhelming. Sad and tragic and you find that it’s “getting old.” That’s sad too!

      Jan 17, 2012 at 8:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • HM
      HM

      I’ll probably be crucified for this but so be it….

      What about the short, fat gay kid in Tulsa who didn’t get a tenth of this kid’s looks, height, family support and far more gay friendly zip code….who DIDN’T kill themselves?

      Yes, bullying is pandemic. Yes, behind every bully is a toxic adult that lights the fires of hate and anger. Yes, Jeffrey’s story is heartbreaking and I feel horrible just looking at this picture of a handsome young man that should have grown into a handsome old man.

      But we need to stop obsessing about the strength of bullies…. and start preaching the strength needed for life. No videos we make, rants we write or celebrities we watch gush over the evils of teenaged bullying will eliminate the fact that there will always be bullies. Always. To assume THAT fact will ‘get better’….sorry, that’s magic wand time.

      We need to say to kids, there ARE ‘parts’ that DONT ‘get better’……….Bullies. Bible thumpers. Breakups, bad romance, shitty jobs, scumbag bosses, health scares, terrorism,Republicans…….yes. Life. Gets. Sucky sometimes.

      That’s why you find your strength wherever you can. Your one friend. Your understanding dad. Your dog. Your stamp collection. A weight room. A comic book. An internship…..for a very, very long time the meek and marginalized among us have found just enough strength to not only survive, but to grab destiny and run with it. The kind of strength that short, fat kid in some middle America homophobe nest who will never be a “hottie” or a “cutie”…..but still finds the power within to keep going.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 9:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rory M
      Rory M

      We really need to start fighting back rather than committing suicide. I was bullied in Hs and it was TOUGH but I fought back. My mom was always accepting of me and I remember telling her I got bullied both physically and verbally in school and finally she said well if you don’t hit back I don’t want to hear it anymore. I listened and punched another student right in his face- I got in trouble for it – and my mom was up at the school ripping each and every teacher and administrator involved a new asshole.

      There is a better outcome but if you kill yourself you’d never know it. I work for a “Gay icon” now and have paved my own way. I know its really difficult and at times life can seem insurmountable but all comes to pass. I know that my specific story may not be helpful to everyone (especially those who aren’t willing to hit back) but I hope it does help at least one person. You have got to show people that you are NOT a victim and you will overcome whatever adversity that they are trying to throw your way.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 10:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • J Ray
      J Ray

      As a mental health professional and a gay man, I have to balance myself. I feel like I personally identify with the post about the “short fat kid.” I routinely feel marginalized by the gay community and was a subject to minor bullying in school but more so being ingrained that gay was “wrong” by Catholic school. After I came out, I was never bullied by anyone new, but the ones who had picked on me before just had another reason to tease me. And unfortunately, no one is promised an easy childhood. I tend to counsel my clients on realism, sometimes its better to just go with the flow and swim along with the currents. If you dress like Lady Gaga in the 6th grade, you will be made fun of. Thats just how kids are. The thought we can eradicate bullying is silly. Its human nature. Every child is trying to fit in in their own way. And often, the outliers are pushed even further from the group. I remember being made fun of for not having “pumps” in grade school, because all the “cool kids” had them.

      That being said, this kid was gorgeous, seemed to be smart, had supportive family and had finished the difficult period of highschool and yet felt the need to end his own life. Each case is different but under DSM rules and from what I’ve read, no one could have spotted this happening except maybe his therapist. Its a shame but I’d hope that that would provide some solace for his family. Bullying seems to be the most recent “bandwagon” for suicide reasoning. Some people just kill themselves whether bullied or not. I’ve had patients want to kill themselves over the smallest of things. You never know what triggers the “final straw.” I’d think the breakup between him and his bf was that. The first relationship can feel like theres no hope after (been there, done that).

      There will always be bullying in some form or another. Very few people have a perfect life and setting people up for that is a mistake in later years. You’ll have a bad boss, a shitty apartment, a broken down car, health problems and times of feast or famine. Theres no promise it always gets better. Much like the real estate market recently, it can go up and up and then one day crater and you lose everything you’ve built up. And honestly, that kids lowest day is probably far better then the worst day of a fat, feminine, spectacle wearing kid from the midwest.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 11:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • averageguy40
      averageguy40

      @HM…well said! I think you are right on track with your thoughts. Bullies have been around forever and will be. Strength to go on sometimes comes from inside. So sad this young man didn’t find it.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 11:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • geoff
      geoff

      @J Ray: Perhaps if you had been around to counsel a young MLK Jr to go with the flow and swim along with the current we would never have had the modern civil rights movement. And “lots of things are human nature” but parents and teachers are supposed to school children in avoiding the lesser of human natures impulses. Bullying may never be eradicated but only because there has been a lack of trying. However, thank you for speculating on what this kid’s lowest day may have been. I feel much more informed.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 11:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • J Ray
      J Ray

      @geoff:
      I think theres a big difference between MLK and a kid whos trying to get through middle school. You’re dealing with minds that don’t necessarily think for themselves yet. An adult will hate you because of what they believe; a child will hate you strictly because you’re different and they want to fit in a crowd. And from what I have read on various boards, etc. researching this, bullying was a small part of this kids life.

      You’re going to tell me that if your 12 year old wants to wear a dress and pumps to his public school in the midwest you’re going to tell them its fine or are you going to tell them “You’re making yourself a target. I support you and one day you will have the opportunity to shine but today might not be that day yet.” Sometimes “just getting through” and mentally focusing on the future is the best way. I don’t like psychiatrists who focus all people’s problems on external factors. You solve your own problems. Sometimes you can change the world and sometimes you can’t. You can change yourself.

      I’m not surmising this kids worst day. Its terrible for a suicide to happen at any age much less a life so promising. But Americans tend to focus on “their problems”. A medical school friend who went a different route, into plastic surgery, is retiring because his patients are never happy no matter how good they look or how perfect his work is. Every year he does a medical mission to Central America where he corrects birth defects, burn victims, etc and says these people have never complained and have been thankful. He is called “Regalo del cielo” or “gift from heaven.”

      No one gives a kid who makes it through a small town highschool with bullies and equally unsupportive families a medal. And if this kid had been an average guy with a gut and receding hairline and had killed himself at 25, you would have heard nothing about it. Every life if precious.

      Jan 18, 2012 at 12:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CBRad
      CBRad

      @Gigi: We just don’t know for sure. Bullying, of course, wouldn’t help in the situation, but….Straight kids (and so-called ‘winners” who seemingly have everything) committ suicide because of depression too.

      Jan 18, 2012 at 2:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CBRad
      CBRad

      @Rory M: Your mother sounds pretty cool.

      Jan 18, 2012 at 2:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @David Smith: @Daniel: @HM:
      How would you guys respond to chronic bullying? I’d bet that each one of you has a breaking point. That point may vary, depending on different factors and environmental conditions, but with enough bullying, I’d bet I could make each one of you commit suicide.

      Jan 18, 2012 at 2:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shinha
      Shinha

      @mallori: Like anti-heterosexual slurs. Ha! They’d all be up in arms about ‘discrimination’, but I bet half of them wouldn’t give two ticks if they were anti-LGBT slurrs.

      Jan 18, 2012 at 9:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • till the world ends
      till the world ends

      @Cam: sponsor money!

      Jan 18, 2012 at 10:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gigi
      Gigi

      @HM: @HM – So just because this young man happened to be tall and good looking he couldn’t possibly have been depressed enough to take his own life? Because he was tall and good looking his coping skills should have been better, or he should have known that giving his puppy a cuddle would save him? Gimme a break! I was the short chubby kid living in a small, rural town who tried to take his own life but, thankfully, wasn’t successful. Afterward I beat myself up even more, thinking that I was a loser for not being able to go through with it. I’m happy now. My life did get better. That’s not always the case.

      Jan 18, 2012 at 11:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gigi
      Gigi

      @HM: So just because this young man happened to be tall and good looking he couldn’t possibly have been depressed enough to take his own life? Because he was tall and good looking his coping skills should have been better, or he should have known that giving his puppy a cuddle would save him? Gimme a break! I was the short chubby kid living in a small, rural town who tried to take his own life but, thankfully, wasn’t successful. Afterward I beat myself up even more, thinking that I was a loser for not being able to go through with it. I’m happy now. My life did get better. That’s not always the case.

      Jan 18, 2012 at 11:09 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • HM
      HM

      @Gigi

      “…So just because this young man happened to be tall and good looking he couldn’t possibly have been depressed enough to take his own life?…”

      Annnd, I said that where? What I said was he had blessings…looks, by the sound of it talent, and a support system. 1,000 people showed up to honor Jeffrey after he was gone. Something in him couldn’t see that love before he was gone. Something in him didn’t recognize his strengths, only his ‘flaws’…..and the morons who played off that.

      By your own admission, you found strength in yourself. The only variable was the timeline.

      What I suggested is by fearing the power of bullies, we’re ignoring the power of resilience….a word you must know if you’ve suffered severe depression.

      You can scream all you want at the bottom of a well. Or you can start thinking of a way to get out.

      Jan 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jack E. Jett
      Jack E. Jett

      @Daniel: Wow……

      Jan 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • steve Kay
      steve Kay

      @Mike UK: the churches that demonize gay kids should be held responsible as accomplices to murder before the fact.

      Generally these are the churches that claim to protect life. What a smokescreen for their horrible crimes, including the endless HIDDEN molestation of children by the catholic church.

      BTW google southern baptist – child molestation> I got 100,000 hits

      there is something wierd about being a religious leader of right wing churches

      ON a more personal note, about 5 years ago my wifes rabbi was forced out of his job and life tenure contract. All kind of rumors abounded

      Fianlly my wife admitted to me that the real reason she he was kicked out was that he had consensual sex with a woman he was counceling.

      And the dumb $#!t got her pregnant.

      It makes me wonder if Hitchens was close with his comment – religion poisons everything.

      maybe its closer to say “relgiious power is another root of all evil.”

      the question I have to ask my wife – shes sleeping now, is – did the rabbis wife give him sex with a shoe in his rear – as she kicked him out of the marriage and home.

      Jan 19, 2012 at 3:10 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tc
      tc

      It’s so sad and infuriating! This young man must have felt that he had no one other that his bf to confide in. Despite having a caring network of family and friends it’s possible he still felt isolated and alone. As adults we can say kids should have the inner fortitude to survive but that is very hard to do when you are young and others taunt you incessantly.

      The strongest weapons are the kids and adults who refuse to remain silent and show that bullying will not be tolerated. That, and safe places, even if online, where kids can discuss, vent and reach out for help. These communities can be a lifeline for those needing support. RIP Jeffrey.

      Jan 21, 2012 at 12:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

    Add your Comment

    Please log in to add your comment

    Need an account? Register It's free and easy.



  • POPULAR ON QUEERTY

    FOLLOW US
     



    GET QUEERTY'S DAILY NEWSLETTER


    FROM AROUND THE WEB

    !-- Sailthru Horizon -->
    Copyright 2014 Queerty, Inc.
    Follow Queerty at Queerty.com, twitter.com/queerty and facebook.com/queerty.