Tyler Clementi's parents give first TV interview about son's death

Joseph Clementi, left, comforts his wife Jane Clementi, after the couple opened up a symposium on use and misuse of social media at Rutgers University, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011, in Piscataway, N.J.
AP Photo/Julio Cortez
(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - In their first television interview, Tyler Clementi's parents Jane and Joe Clementi spoke Monday about how the pain of their son's suicide still haunts them daily.

18-year-old Tyler Clementi was a freshman at Rutgers University in New Jersey when he jumped off New York City's George Washington Bridge Sept. 22, 2010 days after his romantic encounter with another man was secretly recorded by his college roommate and streamed over the internet. 

Pictures: Tyler Clementi

His suicide came just weeks after he revealed to his parents he was gay, having doubts about the existence of a God, and that he felt friendless.

In the past, Joe and Jane Clementi have some statements to reporters and issued some through their lawyer, but now, 15 months after their son's death, they have decided to grant interviews in an effort to promote the foundation they're launching in their son's honor.

They hope the foundation will increase acceptance of gay young people, prevent suicide and stop online bullying.

The family says they are finally seeing some good come from the media attention Tyler's death has received. However, the pain is still very much present in their everyday lives.

Jane and Joe Clementi told NBC's Kerry Sanders that the loss they still feel is "almost like a physical pain."

"It's like a tightening of the chest. It's aching of the muscles and tightening of your face and your jaw and you're clenching, and it just physically hurts," said Jane Clementi.

Tyler's roommate who posted the video, 19-year-old Dharun Ravi, faces 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, which could result in a 10-year prison sentence. Ravi rejected a plea deal on Friday.

Tyler learned of the invasion of privacy and asked his resident adviser to assign him a new room. Jane Clementi told Ann Curry on The Today Show live on Monday that her son unfortunately never told them about what was going on at his school.

"I wish he would have come to us, but he didn't," she said. "I wish the RA would have encouraged him to come to us."

His father Joe told Curry he has a message for gay youth who, like his son, may find themselves in a difficult place in life. "If you feel alone, find somebody, reach out to parents, friends. get help," he said. "Suicide is never the right answer - it's always wrong."

Complete Coverage of Tyler Clementi on Crimesider

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