lives lost

SHOCK: Johnson & Wales College Student Raymond Chase Is September’s 5th Gay Suicide

Jesus. Number six five. His name is Raymond Chase, he was a 19-year-old student at Johnson & Wales in Providence, and he hung himself in his dorm room Wednesday night. I can’t even believe these young men are now becoming statistics.

Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Justin Aaberg (he died in July), and Billy Lucas, and Tyler Clementi. Now, a fifth young soul.

From a release, it’s unclear why Chase — a Monticello, New York native — took his own life.

Ronald Martel, the school’s dean of students, emailed the campus yesterday:

Today I contact you with the deeply sad news of the passing of Raymond Chase, sophomore, 19, culinary arts major. The campus community is mourning the loss of this vibrant young man who leaves many JWU friends and teachers, and a loving family of Monticello, New York.

Funeral arrangements are not available at this time. As we obtain more information that can be shared, we will do so. Ray’s JWU friends and the university are planning a memorial service for the campus community. Those details will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, I encourage anyone who is having a difficult time to seek the services available at Student Counseling. Our staff of professionals is here to work with all of you during this sorrowful time. Their help and confidentiality is a benefit that you should consider.

Student Counseling services are available at the The Friedman Center, 2nd floor, Harborside Campus and at Wales (formerly Plantations) Hall, 2nd Floor, Downcity Campus. Call 401-598-1016 to reach both locations.

By expressing the university community’s condolences to Ray’s family, I join you during this time of bereavement.

Unbelievably — UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLY — Kevin Jennings remains completely silent. He’s speaking later today in New York, to a private audience at NYU. This is the guy in charge of keeping our schools safe? A joke.

Our hearts go out to Raymond’s family.

Tyler Clementi Reached Out to The Web Before His Facebook Farewell: ‘Jumping off the gw bridge sorry’

[This post erroneously reported six suicides took place this month. Raymond appears to be the fifth.]

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  • Tweety

    So sad. You’d think that with the internet and many positive LGBT role models today that our youth would have it so easy, but these advances get silenced by the hateful rhetoric of the closet-case religious fundies. Wishing peace to Raymond’s family and friends.

  • S

    I want to write a polemic about the society that facilitated all of the recent suicides by young gay men, by implicitly and often explicitly encouraging open expressions of hatred and violence toward gender variant people.

    However, there are no words sufficient to express the frustration I feel at the staggering stupidity and insensitivity of bigotry and its relentless continuation even after tragic events like these occur.

    I shall echo your sentiments, Tweety, and wish comfort to all of the victims’ families and friends.

  • Thom

    Do you think all the attention that is being given to the other suicides is the reason so many others are taking place?

  • UMB

    Kevin Jennings and GSLEN are worried about suicide contagion (basically, copycat suicides) which is why they are dealing with this quietly and behind the scenes, which is the responsible thing to do.

    Queerty, you best think before you go wildly blaming figurehead scapegoats that have probably thought this through more than you have.

  • gollygeegaygoy

    My heart breaks with each new suicide. Fortunately my anger grows, and the fight must be to educate students of all ages about the murderous impact of bullying.

  • Eric R

    Actually it is only 5 Justin Aaberg which you have listed here committed suicide on July 9th 2010, still 1 suicide is 1 too many. Some reports are coming in of other suicides but it is still not clear on the details. Just thought I would let you know.

  • Black Pegasus

    Society needs to change………..NOW!

  • scott ny'er

    WTF. Another one. This is terrible. So sad.

  • Andy Buck

    Actually, it IS six. We did lose Justin Aaberg in July. But Cody Barker died last month in the midst of this recent epidemic. It’s a tragically technical detail — five, six. But accuracy is important. We’ve lost six young gay men since September 9.

  • Fitz

    It’s like I’m reading the Crucible. Only this time it;s gay men, and instead of witchcraft it’s suicide. ugggggg. I don’t know WHAT I am feeling right now, but I am feeling a lot of it.

  • Michael

    We don’t know the reason fr any of these suicides. Bullying may be a catalyst, but I have to believe there is more.

  • matt

    Surprise, surprise. As the Religious Right keep demonizing the GLBT life what else would you expect to happen?? Hello American this is what yall are voting for!

  • Michael

    @Thom: Don’t know why people are thumbing down your thought. This question has been raised and studied, and there is indeed evidence to support that publicity increases the incidence of suicide. Those previously disposed to suicidal thoughts find a level of affirmation in seeing the accounts of others. Not good, sad, but true.

  • Steve

    “Kevin Jennings and GSLEN are worried about suicide contagion (basically, copycat suicides) which is why they are dealing with this quietly and behind the scenes, which is the responsible thing to do.”

    That makes total sense. A policymaker shouldn’t speak about policy because some hypothetical gay teen, who apparently doesn’t watch TV or visit any gay blog, might be tracking the activities of the Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights, learn of the suicides and then kill himself. I am sure that the agency’s website is second in popularity only to Justin Bieber’s.

    Also, even if you accept this absurd defense, there is no reason
    why he couldn’t direct his comments to the epidemic of homophobic bullying, without mentioning the suicides.

    And BTW, it is 6 suicides that we happen to know of.
    It seems likely that there were other deaths this month that we know nothing about, since like most deaths, they didn’t become national news.

  • reason

    One suicide has been known to open the door to a wave of suicides, it is one of the reasons some schools refuse to bring up a suicide to their student body. For someone with suicide ideation, someone actually pulling through and doing it can be confirming. Others maybe motivated by the attention and love directed to the suicide victim, that they have been incapable of receiving in their lives. The media becomes more sensitive to it as well, there were a lot of suicides last year that we never heard about. The media can make something seem like an epidemic, when it is just the norm. For example in 07 a total of 34,598 (~95 a day), I don’t know how many were children, and 594,000 (~0.2% of pop.) that arrived at emergency room with self-inflicted injuries. With such an elevated number, it is unlikely for government figures to address specific incidents. If you address one, someone is going to feel shortchanged when you don’t address another. If you want to address everyone (~95 a day)you would spend your entire day talking about suicide. The government can make some changes, but it is nearly impossible for the government to stop suicides; it is one of those things that is beyond the governments ability to solve. It is something that resides on the citizens, we need to make our neighbors feel loved, and that may not even be enough.

  • John

    another gay kid killing himself. ugh. im so fucking over caring for these FAGGOTS. god. killing yourself. die. its called THINNING OUT THE HEARD. honestly, learn to fight and make yourself dangerous and someone not to be fucked with. fuck, i know drag queens that can fuck gay bashers up so its not impossible.

  • Steve

    @reason: You need to rethink your online name. We can’t cover up important events and restrict the flow of information on matters of vital public concern based on what might happen to a mentally ill person or emotionally unstable person who hears that information. Maybe the press shouldn’t cover AIDS b/c that coverage will lead someone to think that everyone is getting it, so why try to avoid it. Maybe we can stop covering terrorism since it might create the impression of a terrorism epidemic and drive some unstable person to commit a hate crime.

    More importantly, whether you like it or not,the press has already covered all of these suicides. The cat is out of the bag, and it makes no sense for Jennings and/or GLSEN to claim that speaking about these publicized cases will cause a follow-on suicide.

    Finally, just because government can’t “solve” the problem of suicide doesn’t mean that it can’t play an important role in disseminating information, setting standards for schools and other institutions serving youth, and allocating resources.

  • Fitz

    At this point, if you are a young lgbt person who commits suicide, you are a wannabe on the tail end the trend. Do something courageous like finding a way to live.


    Notice that they were only boys….

    Nuff said, point proven everytime.

    But I’m the misogynist.


    Also, have anyone ever thought that the bullying isn’t only external but internal as well. I had to fight myself for decades to not look at hot guys. That’s fucking painful, especially when you have a mother waiting for a lover in your life of the opposite gender.

  • Ealan

    @ Fitz: Attitudes like yours are as much the problem as the “bullying” that we’ve all been ranting about. I hope you never lose a loved one to suicide, only to have some jerk toss off some insensitive crap like what you just said. Wannabe’s spend ridiculous amounts of money on pretentious clothes. Wannabes change their personalities to get attention. Wannabe’s do not kill themselves.

  • John

    @ Ealan

    there are such things as suicide fads

    just watch HEATHERS

  • Fitz

    @Ealan: Nonsense. I am challenging these kids to find their strength, and choosing to NOT applaud this new social phenom. How do you extinguish unacceptable behavior? How do you encourage it. Think this one over. We need them to survive youth, they need us. There is a place for warm fuzzy support, and there is a time for a “Snap out of it, enough is enough”. If you want you can bring the kleenex and be the big warm tit for everyone to cry on. I am choosing my way out of respect, experience, and even love.

  • wompman

    Another horrible young tragedy. No sense can be made of this rash of deaths. I think every young gay man (and I’m sure many gay women, but let’s face it, society holds it most vile hatred and contempt for gay men) has felt hopeless and alone. You are not and it is true, life gets better. This just makes me sick and overwhelmingly sad.

  • AdonisOfFire

    We need to organize a massive protest and demand that schools and other organizations protect the LGBT youth. We need to become militant and aggressive, the prissy attitude most gays have is what allows the evil people in this world to prey on us.

  • Michael

    @AdonisOfFire: How about a massive protest demanding that parents take more interest in raising their kids?

  • AdonisOfFire


    I think a law should be passed requiring couples to pass psychological evaluations in order to receive a permit to have kids, so many people are simply not fit parents. And massive control of natality should be implemented, specially in the poorer countries where people are starving and dying of AIDS or have no running water yet they keep breeding like bunnies.

  • reason


    Why do I need to rethink my online name?

    I am not aware of anyplace in my post where I said we need to restrict information. The press covers what they choose, and as I said before they make the norm look like an epidemic. They could fill up the entire news day for a month covering drunk and disorderly people across the country, and make it seem like the country was descending into a drunken hell.

    Once again if you actually read the post I said the government can change somethings.

    I said public officials are unlikely to address a specific suicide becuase others may feel shortchanged when their loved one is not addressed. What makes the 4-6 suicides more special than the 95 suicides that happen everyday? The officials that are responsible for knowing such things already know and doing what they can, just becuase it is one of the things that happened to cross your radar today doesn’t make it anymore salient to the officials. A blog of people maybe reading about child trafficking today and demand that someone should be speaking about it. Type honors students shot to death in Google, and see how many recent hits come up. A million things are happening everyday, officials can’t come out and give speeches or there would be no time left to work. We live in a society of 300 million, and unfortunately bad things happen frequently.

  • Max


    Fuck to jesus! Fucking christianity is a reason o? homophobia!!!!!!!!!!

  • Max

    Reason, shut up

  • Henry Juhala

    I have more to post later. But the most important thing to post now is this update. A report in “Chicogoist” indicates Raymond Chase “killed himself Wednesday after a fellow student in his dorm wrote, “You are gay, get out of Barlow [Hall] before you regret it” on his dry erase board.” Yes… another case of bullying.

  • Henry Juhala

    I don’t necessarily think there is a spike in the number of gay teen suicides. As others pointed out there are a huge amount of suicides everyday that do not get noticed in the general press. Someone mentioned 95 suicides a day. From other reports I recall reading, for gays and lesbians there are about two dozen per day.

    What we are seeing is a spike in reporting on gay and lesbian suicides. To me that is a very good thing. In the past most reporters (for some of the reasons stated above) have hesitated on making such reports.

    More importantly I think it has more to do with the recent inclusion of sexual orientation in the hate crimes bill. If any of these suicides are induced from outside sources, like bullying, that might be due to animus against a particular group of people, local agencies now can call upon their state agencies or the feds to help in more properly and thoroughly investigate.

    Prior to this. lots of local agencies did not have the manpower, time or resources to devote to such crimes. As such, anything gay related was often given the lowest priority. As a victim of a violent crime, I can speak with some authority on the latter. So, I am very pleased things are changing in the media.

    I also know that suicides happen in clusters. In this case I don’t see that kind of pattern. These are not copycat suicides or peers committing suicides because their friends in schools or their communities have. I am convinced most of these gay suicides are induced by general cultural anti-gay pressures that are repeatedly reinforced through their church, through politicians, and even family and peers.

    When something does happen to put extra pressure on them (like videotaping sex) or writing hate speech on one’s own chalkboard, then I can see it being the catalyst to suicide. So, unless there is a massive uprising in a local area to taunt and harass gays and lesbians within a certain cluster, I am less worried about cluster suicides.

    But, I am terribly worried about the broader ongoing messages of animus against gays and lesbians in churches and in particular in our GOP and Tea Party politicians. In many messages and soundbites regarding gay marriage or DADT, the message that comes across loud and clear is that gays have less value and less worth than the rest of society.

    The message that is coming across, through things like anti-gay marriage laws and DADT, is that we (straight society) can bully you into submitting to our wishes and our laws and even criminalize you (DADT) or punish you (take away your rights and benefits and give them to heterosexuals ala marriage benefits and tax laws, etc.).

    Teens also see the very perpetrators of these messages getting rewarded. Talk show hosts relaying these messages get large audiences, fame and big paychecks. Pastors are rewarded with invitations to “Pray TV” programs and political platforms to further spread their animus and fatten their wallets. Politicians get elected and re-elected. All rewards for the kinds of messages they send to the public.

    Adults all around us are bullying gays and lesbians. Is it any wonder that younger kids and teens learn to act in the same manner? And is it any wonder gay and lesbian teens feel inferior and unworthy of living among society at large?

  • Henry Juhala

    @Henry Juhala: I just found out that the above post was not correct. There was misinformation. The student who posted the information on the dry erase board was at a nearby University of Rhode Island in Providence. There must be something in the water there. Here is the information on that incident.

    “An anti-gay threat written on a dry-erase board on the door of a University of Rhode Island dorm room has resulted in the arrest of a freshman from Massachusetts, URI officials said Thursday.

    Christopher Hagen, 19, of Scotland Road in Reading, Mass., was charged with misdemeanor vandalism and disorderly conduct after university police were called to Barlow Hall at 1:44 a.m. Sept. 24 on a report that someone had tagged several doors with offensive remarks, URI spokesman Dave Lavallee said.

    One student reported feeling threatened, Lavallee said.

    The message, Lavallee said, was accompanied by a drawing of a male anatomical part and said: “You are gay, get out of Barlow before you regret it.”

    The investigation led to a resident who admitted to writing on the door, Lavallee said. Hagen was held overnight by university police and released on his own recognizance, promising to pay $1,000 if he doesn’t appear in District Court, South Kingstown, to answer the charges. He is scheduled to appear Oct. 6, Lavallee said.

    He has also been referred to URI’s judicial process.”

    Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

  • Alexander

    ??? ?????! ?????? ? ????? ??????? ??????? :?(

    bastards! where in the people so much anger? :?(

  • reason

    @Henry Juhala: You touch on some good points that where not readily available in my mind. Gay bullies in the upper class are rewarded for their hostility. Rush, GOP congresspeople, and wealthy pastors are idolized when they attack GBLT. It is definitely reinforcing the behavior of young bigoted bullies around the country.

  • Angered

    Whoever liked this story with a LOL, fail, or cute is seriously fucked up.

  • Henry Juhala

    @reason: So that is where John Briggs and Anita Bryant disappeared to. I wondered what happened to them. They must have reincarnated as DeMint LOL. DeMint’s position on gay issues is scary in particular considering his leadership role in the Tea Party. His position and others like his is a very real problem with the self-image of gays and lesbians who may be prone to suicide. I am a personal testament to that.

    When John Briggs, with the support of Anita Bryant, launched the Briggs Initiative in California (1978) it was the first major initiative against gay rights. It was also a maker or breaker of political careers including that of Harvey Milk’s. Its focus was to keep gays from teaching in public schools. At the time I was in a Christian college studying Christian Education and had previously studied in a secular school to be an elementary teacher. Even though my church and school were anti-gay and I was not yet out, I fervently worked behind the scenes to help defeat Briggs because I knew the personal consequences of it on my vocation.

    I later came out to my church, which didn’t go so well. I ended up leaving the church and the school after the school also found out I was gay and promised to never license or ordain me if I didn‘t “change“ and be straight.

    Even though the Briggs Initiative was defeated, I also knew with all the rhetoric, hate and animus launched by Briggs and Anita Bryant during the campaign that my future in education was over if I were to be out as a gay man. Everything I had worked my entire life for had just disappeared before my very eyes.

    Yet, I knew I couldn’t lie anymore and stay in the closet. I was doing my best to hold it all together. In that moment of devastation, grief and loss I seriously considered taking my own life. If one more major setback had happened at the time, or if I had been using drugs or alcohol I am fairly certain I would have. If I had access to a gun, a decent knife or a supply of sleeping pills I would have been gone. I was holding out for a gun because a knife or sleeping pills might not adequately finish the job.

    By that point, I knew enough about the Bible and my own Christian faith to know I was not condemned by God for being gay. But, the constant media messages from other outside rhetoric hammering home their anti-gay stance had done its toll on my emotions. The climate it created was a major cause of me not to bring to fruition my lifelong vocational goals. Since it helped end my world, perhaps I should just finish the job.

    Thank God I somehow found the resources in a gay Christian support group now called Evangelicals Concerned. They became a major tool in helping to rebuild my self-image. Since then I have had a wonderful life and can attest that life does get better.

    That is a clear example why the kind of messages of hate by people like DeMint, Focus on the Family and NOM are harmful. Once the damage is done from them it could be toxic to someone prone to suicide. To undo the damage (as in my case) takes a lot of time and energy from key resources. But, it is so important to have those key resources in place to help prevent even just one suicide.

  • Liz

    I agree with you completely. Being militant and radical is the only way to initiate real change. Nobody ever made headway by bowing their heads and saying, “well…you just have to understand that there are always going to be people who disagree with your view…you just have to get over it.” The people who believe that make me sick. They perpetuate tolerance instead of acceptance. This country is not accepting, at all, of homosexuality, they are tolerant of it, if that. There is a difference. The only way to change things is to fuck with gender, fuck with sexuality, and fuck with normality as a whole. October 20th is the day where everyone who cares should wear purple to commemorate these remarkable young men, and remember how they lived, OUT. I implore everyone, gay or straight, women, wear baggy pants and a leather jacket, and men, wear your tightest jeans and a scarf. Do what you can to fuck with normality. Be bold.

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