Oakland University Student Corey Jackson, 19, Hangs Himself. Was Bullying a Factor?

Oakland University sophomore Corey Jackson, 19, was found Tuesday night hanging from a tree in a wooded area near campus in Rochester Hills, Michigan. His suicide is not being tied to bullying, campus police chief Sam Mlucido says: “We have no indication that bullying-type activity was occurring. We have talked with two people — one who was a student — who were close to Corey Jackson and they have said that was not an issue.” Corey’s family says otherwise.

Jackson’s family said he recently revealed to them that he was a homosexual, and that they believe he was bullied over his sexual orientation. They think the bullying led him to commit suicide.

“I believe (it happened) because he recently realized he was a homosexual and he was getting pressured at school by his peers because he told his family and nothing changed here,” said grandmother Carolyn Evans. “Corey was the most loving, giving, funny person. He had the most wonderful personality. He had cousins from ages 14 down to 2 and he never said a bad word about anybody. When he went to school and he realized his sexual preference had changed, he changed completely. He withdrew.”

[…] Jackson’s Aunt, Kim Jones, said Corey revealed to her he was having a difficult time. “He said ‘I don’t know what’s wrong. Ever since I came out people are treating me different. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where I belong,” Jones said.

In a statement, OU president Gary Russi told students, “Any death in the campus community diminishes us all. We know there will be no quick antidote for the pain that Corey’s sudden death has caused, and that only time can heal the sorrow felt by his family and friends. In our mourning, I am hopeful that we will not focus on the manner of Corey’s death, but rather celebrate the life he lived and the people he touched.”

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  • Michael

    I feel like this isn’t quite right. Injecting into this, in the headline: “WAS BULLYING A FACTOR?” when there really is no evidence besides that his grandmother says he was having a tough time since his “sexual preference had changed”.

  • Sug Night

    Sounds like MeMaw was a bit clueless. This is incredibly sad. We’ll never know what value and contributions the world will miss without him.

  • Baxter

    You guys realize that there are other reasons why a person might kill himself besides bullying, right?

  • eyesiq

    Sounds like a personal problem.

    Besides, I don’t think “people treated me differently” can directly translate into “I’m being bullied” without a hefty dose of speculation.

    I love how his parents say his sexuality “changed” when he went to school.

  • Sacramento

    I wasn’t bullied by my peers for being gay as a teen. I was however tormented by my Mormon religion and siblings and contemplated suicide. Glad I didn’t, but I got close… It’s not always the bullies at school that drive a kid to end his life.

  • adman

    I remember it well, coming out in highschool among an ethic/minority community that really had no collective idea that a young gay man could hold any status whatsoever. Even people who didn’t frown on queers were suddenly completely tone-deaf and useless to me, and their silence rendered me useless to them as well.
    It was like all of a sudden I wasn’t invisible, per se, but I wasn’t who I really am reallt, at least to them. I was a handful of threatening sterotypes to be tolerated at best. And I’m talking about the people I trusted the most. I had lost any identity that I was accustomed to having. Luckily for me, I was the type who was into being “alternative”; a bit of a tearaway, actually. So I was faced with the realization that it was time to live up to all of my habitual declarations of my own independence and free thinking, so it ended up being a huge adventure.
    What is the difference between me and this kid, who probably wanted, or more likely expected, a little cold comfort at the least? Nothing worse than to realize you’ve been left hanging, except being young and feeling that way and thinking it’s eternal..”the rest of my life” used to be a recurring thought to me.
    It’s the adolescent lack of perspective, and so sad. The pain is unbearable to some. I wonder if the rest of America is waking up to the fact that in our way of life, straights are afforded status via conformity, and that is worth more to the vast number of them than anything. Even the well being of their own kids. They can’t bear to face the fact that they deny us what they in fact, do deny and in their hearts, it’s on a matter of principle, once you throw in the denial mechanism. They always scheme privately, “what’ll I do now that the gay is near? Do I have the gay fouling me now? I wonder if my reputation is at stake” Let’s face it, we know they do.

  • Steve

    What is “bullying”? Is physical violence a required element? If not, what are the essential elements? And, who is to decide if a person was being bullied before he committed suicide?

    Wikipedia says bullying “comprises repeated acts over time that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power with the more powerful individual or group abusing those who are less powerful.” The imbalance of power may be real, or it may be only perceived. The abuse may be physical, but that is not required. The abuse may be verbal or emotional. I am sure there are other definitions.

    The other people who were around him may not be aware of his perception, or of his emotional state. Further, people who inflict verbal or emotional abuse often do not recognize what they are doing. It can even be unintentional. Rejection from a peer social network, or difficulty in making friends during freshman year, could be perceived by the victim in a way that no one else could recognize.

    If we focus only on the obvious physical bullying, we are missing the point. People do not commit suicide because of physical injuries. People do commit suicide because of emotional or psychological injuries that they are unable to cope with. The emotional perception is the important part.

  • Michael

    I think it’s part of the human condition to have difficulty trying to figure out where you fit in, at least once in life – regardless of sexuality. I know people in their sixties who are still on their summer job. Bullying can be defined in many ways, and no, it does not stop after high school. Bad bosses, bad lovers and/or spouses, bad neighbors, bill collectors, back-stabbing “friends,” superiors in the military, run-ins with the law – am I alone in asking; “why me?”

  • Dan

    It’s sad. He could have been a great husband to some wonderful guy. Too bad he didn’t stick around to find out.

    Thank you to all the politicians and religious leaders who actually stand up for equality and human rights. And for the others, the ones that violate equality and human rights… they are to blame for all this pain and suffering.

    There’s a special place in hell for politicians and religious leaders whose actions and inactions have caused young people to take their lives.

  • Michael W.

    That sucks. He was cute, too.

  • Breckin

    I could be wrong but if I recall correctly it’s not unusual to have suicides in teens (regardless of their sexuality) who are in their first two years of college, in the beginning of the fall semester. Yes we need to deal with bullies who taunt gay teens but perhaps testing psychological readiness and administering professional help for all teens, whether gay or straight, who are taking the big steps to independence should be the top priority.

  • Jack

    Why this sudden increase of suicides?

  • meego

    @Jack: I’ve been wondering the same thing. Lately, it seems like it’s all we hear about. There were suicides before. Why didn’t we hear, or hardly hear, about those? I still say there’s more to this than we think. This is not normal.

  • Yellow Bone

    @Jack: @meego: It’s not an increase in suicides. The suicide rate is generally the same as it has been. There’s been an increase in how many have been reported on by major news outlets.

    What exactly spurred the interest of major news in reporting it, I don’t know.

  • meego

    @Yellow Bone: I see it as a desperate attempt by religious freaks, right wing nuts, homophobes (call them what you want) to show what being gay will lead to. They’ll try anything! Anything to weaken us and bring us down, they’ll do it!

  • DR

    Something isn’t passing the smell test…. his friends say there was no bullying, he never mentioned anything to his family, and they seem supportive.

    The fact that some people have to adjust to something like coming out =/= bullying.

    We need to stop jumping to conclusions and easy answers and remind people that suicide is no way out.


    I don’t know if these teens are suddenly deciding to commit suicide in the warped view that the sudden rash of suicides has somewhat elevated the act towards something that will give them some kind of immorality. They need to realize that this act does nothing but sentences them to a very slow painfull last desparate moments of life. I am so very sure Tyler Chimenti regretted the act as soon as he hit the water, and all the teens who have hung themselves as soon as the rope began so suffocate the life out of them………………

    If you are having any kind of these thoughts there are plenty of avenues to seek help. Almost every sane college campus has a Gay group where one can seek peer assistance. The Trevor Project is available 24/7 to offer assistance……

    Remeber this number: 866-4-U-TREVOR

    No matter how they may put on a sad face, you know a good many of these rightwing hatemongers are not sheding a single tear as they hear the news of a Gay teen committing suicide. Don’t give them the sick satisfaction. There are millions of us who live great lives in spite of the hate that is constantly spewed our way by the rightwing scum…………

  • ousslander

    ONe person’s suicide and the attention it brings, can give tacit approval to people already thinking about it.

    I was taunted by a bully in highschool, until I told him to shut up or I will make him shut up. We need to teach gay kids it’s ok to fight back and win. If someone hits you, you hit back harder.

    It seems we are raising very thin skinned and weak willed kids. This is what happens when everyone gets a “trophy” for just competing and shielding kids very the reality of life. Just vcover them in bubble wrap and hope nothing gets through.

  • Daez

    @Baxter: Like they are selfish narcissistic egotistical asses that can’t think far enough ahead to realize that the only people suicide hurts is everyone you leave behind?

    Seriously, I stopped feeling sympathy for these kids before I started. Suicide is the most selfish act imaginable, and I’m willing to bet every single reader on this forum has a background of being bullied and downright tortured in high school, but we lived through it.

  • Enron

    I think we are probably beginning to see the side effect of the publicity given to the recent suicides amongst young Gay’s. I hope this is not a way of seeking attention, because what persons contemplating suicide must understand, you can’t help a person when they are dead, although you are dead and suffering no more, you leave the ones you love behind to suffer the terrible pain of your lost. I sympathize, it was never easy for me to go through high school with these feelings, not having the “normal” feelings for girls like other boys did.

    But I remember that, there is a lot to look forward to in life, getting a decent education, getting a job and who knows, you might just meet someone along the way you can trust and share your life with. Gay or straight though, suicide is a very selfish act, I know from personal experience the pain and anguish it leaves. Its like a stranger out of nowhere slaps you in the back of your head in the dark, ran off and you don’t even know who it was and you can’t do anything about it. Years later, you keep wondering, who did that, why did they do that, will I ever know why?

    I know persons at these young ages , their minds are still developing, certain things I use go crazy over to me now are just water under the bridge. Some are seeking the easiest way out, but what those young ones contemplating suicide must understand, suicide should never, ever be an option, no matter how bad you feel.

    Apart from this, its really sad to see another go so soon, RIP Corey Jackson, you are handsome person who brought a lot of joy during your short stay.

  • A.Constantinos

    @Baxter: Yes, bullying by individuals may not be a factor. Bullying by SOCIETY is something we haven’t talked about much. Every straight couple holding hands on the street and in adverts–every seemingly benign reference to heterosexual norms is a jab in the eye to a young gay person. So bullying by society IS at play, even if the lad wasn’t pushed into a locker or something like that.

  • Vlad

    Referring to people who have committed suicide as “selfish” and focusing on the pain and hurt that they have caused to those they have left behind is what is supremely selfish. Go f–k yourselves!

  • Baxter

    @A.Constantinos: That may be one of the most ridiculous posts I’ve ever seen on here. Congrats. What exactly do you propose we do about this “societal bullying”?

    @Steve: That’s why all these proposed anti-bullying laws are so stupid: there’s no good definition of bullying, so the laws are so vague that they trample on free speech.

  • Greg

    @Sacramento: EXACTLY! I admit I know nothing about this young man besides what I just read, but deducing from his name, appearance, and his proximity to Detroit, all signs are pointing to suffering black homophobia, which is heavily steeped in Christian dogma. Remember during Obama’s presidential when he sought counsel from homophobic black minister Rev. James T. Meeks? You’re absolutely right how so often the bullying is brought on by the Bible, and your relatives who pray for you when you claim you have “changed sexual orientation.”[img][/img]

  • Fitz

    Almost NOTHING is worth killing yourself over. I’ve been in love, I’ve been dumped, I’ve been very flush, and very broke. I’ve been on top of the game, and I have been an outcast. I am telling you, there is NOTHING except terminal illness which can’t get better with time.

  • tjr101

    I grew up in a conservative/religious environment and was bullied once in a while in school, but never did the thought of killing myself come to mind. I don’t understand it, young people today need to know that life is never easy. But you do grow and learn from your experiences.

    Do these kids think they’re the only ones going through this? Join the crowd! What doesn’t kill will only make you stronger and yes it does get better because you grow up, reflect on the past and see how far you’ve come. You survived!

    I think the recent suicides has less to do with increase incidences than is the increased reporting of them. There is just more media exposure. And there is so much more support groups out there than there were in my high school days almost a decade ago.

  • Jaroslaw

    #23 Baxter, are you a moron? I’m not going to waste my time typing out an explanation to you about society. READ. Or are you even Gay? If you are you must have some inkling, unless you are terribly privileged.

    The other thing that bothers me; the Grandmother says “when he went to school, he realized his sexual preference changed, he completely changed.” Well gee parents & relatives, what more do you need to (at least try to) intervene? If “someone completely changed” I don’t know how much stronger a sign/clue/hint you could get.

    And I don’t think someone goes to school “100% straight” and then “realizes” they are now Gay. This is so very sad.

  • Baxter

    @Jaroslaw: I understood what he posted. I just thought it was stupid. Are we going to ban heterosexuals from holding hands in public so you don’t feel bad about it? Maybe we can remove all romance from movies/TV/music/literature? What is your proposal to stop “societal bullying”?

  • acem

    @Greg: Shut up. That random, idiotic thesis made you sound incredibly ignorant.

  • Jaroslaw

    #28 Baxter – Ok, so A Constantino’s example was stupid, of course we’re not going ban hets from holding hands. I was thinking of the broader picture that society in general is about rewarding conformity and punishing individuality, and especially that volatile mix of Gay sexuality (yucky kinds of sex to many) and religion – there is a long history in the west regarding Christianity and the “vilest” of sexual sins….. sorry if I jumped the gun on you.

  • Chitown Kev


    And Detrit just named an openly gay black man as President of their City Council.

    AND he had the support of the black churches.

    You must want a Detroit beatdown and as a native Detroiter, I can certainly give to you.

    Besides, there are more antigay havens in Michigan than Detroit.

  • Chitown Kev


    And Detrit just named an openly gay black man as President of their City Council.

    AND Charles Pugh had the support of the black churches.

    You must want a Detroit style beatdown and as a native Detroiter, I can certainly give to you.

    Besides, there are more antigay havens in Michigan than Detroit.

  • Jaroslaw

    Go Chi!

  • Sad

    Aww, that’s a sad mess. And he was a cute guy too and had his whole life ahead of him :(

  • Aussie Col

    Of course bullying was an issue.

    Gay kid at school, there’s no chance there wasn’t any, unless there has been some mind blowing change to society.He was alone. He decided that the life he saw in front of him was not worth the pain.

    Yes, it could have been other contributing factors, but we also need to stop accepting these deaths as anything but a sad tragedy that diminishes each and every one of us.

    Gay kids don’t need tolerance, they need acceptance.

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