Mom to bury bullied son in Lady Gaga lyric shirt
A few weeks after posting a plea for help online, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer took his own life. / CBS
The Department of Education this week is holding its second summit on combating bullying. It's a nationwide problem that was painfully highlighted this week in western New York State by the suicide of a high school freshman.
CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano reports that 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, of Buffalo, had been bullied relentlessly since the fifth grade. In May, he posted a video for the "It Gets Better" Project, in which he said he found comfort in an online support group for gay teens. In the video, he says, "I have so much support from people I don't even know online. I know that sounds creepy, but they're so nice and caring and they don't ever want me to die."
But Sunday, Jamey's parents, Tim and Tracy Rodemeyer, found his body outside their home.
Tracy Rodemeyer told CBS News, "All the girls just loved him and they always defended him, but all the boys would say, 'Geez, you're such a girl. Why are you hanging out with all those girls? What are you, a girl? Oh, you must be gay.'"
He was harassed by online insults. He saw counselors to try to deal with the pain.
Back in May, he had hope, inspired by singer Lady Gaga and her message of tolerance. He said in a video, "Hold your head up and you'll go far. Because that's all you have to do, just love yourself and you're set."
But just weeks ago, that optimism seemed gone. He posted an online plea for help that said, "I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so people will listen to me?"
As word of his suicide spread, Lady Gaga tweeted: "I have so much anger. It is hard to feel love when cruelty takes someone's life."
Tracy Rodemeyer said, "For a young kid of 14 and a half, he had a big message, a huge message, that shouldn't even have to be a message. It should just be common decency to not make people feel worthless and useless on this planet."
Tracy Rodemeyer told CBS News she will bury her son Saturday in a Lady Gaga t-shirt. it reads "Born This Way."
On "The Early Show," Dan Savage, co-founder of the "It Gets Better" Project, explained the idea behind the project is for adults who had been through bullying themselves and who understood to share their stories and their joyous adult lives.
He said, "They are with these kids to give them an idea of the future that was possible for them if they could hang on. But sometimes hope isn't enough, and sometimes the future is too remote, and sometimes the bullying is too devastating and too extreme and those times, they just -- they break our hearts. But in his pain, you know, I don't think when you watch Jamey's 'It Gets Better' video, he is clearly speaking to other kids, trying to offer them encouragement, but he is also clearly, now, we know, speaking to himself and trying to encourage himself to hang in there."
Savage continued, "But even in his pain, he was reaching out and trying to help, and we need to follow his example and continue to reach out and try to help and not let Jamey's tragic death make us feel hopeless or despair or give up."
Savage encourages youth to make videos and talk to each other.
He added, "One of the things people need to know is, if a child is saying the bullying is so extreme - as extreme as the bullying that Jamey endured - we need to change the circumstances."
On the "It Gets Better" Project website, Savage said youths talk about how they can get their GED, begin home schooling or switch schools.
He said, "It can seem like you're handing the bullies a victory when you pull a queer kid out of school where he's being harassed. But that's sometimes what you need to do."
For more information about the "It Gets Better" Project, check out their website.
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