His Friends Called Him Corey: Jay’Corey Jones, 17, Death by Suicide
Sunday night, 17-year-old, Jay’Corey Jones, “Corey” to his friends, ended his life in Rochester, MN. According to his father, he had been bullied for a very long time because of his sexual orientation. That bullying lead to depression. And, like many before him, that combination proved to be deadly.
According to the news report, in which Corey’s father, JayBocka Strader was very candid and forthcoming about the life of his son, everything that could be done was being done. His single-parent father was very supportive of his son. Corey had friends who loved him. He was even briefly involved with his school’s Gay/Straight Alliance. He was out and proud. He wanted to make a stand for gay rights. Unfortunately, that put him in the cross hairs for bullies. And, once again, rather than seeing all of the positives going on in his life, the negative of being bullied proved too much for him to handle.
Still reeling from the report of a 16-year-old girl who ended her life just a few hours ago right here in Maryland (much too early for any details), I’m left to wonder “what are we not doing enough of!?” We’re very obviously missing a beat somewhere, somehow. Yes, we know about the problem with bullying and how it needs to be dealt with on a much different level than it is today. Yes, we have an idea of the mental health issues involved with many of the teen suicides. Whether they’re being properly addressed, however, is a question mark.
Somehow, these teens who give up on their young lives are seeing a world that’s so dark, so bleak for them, they see no point in going on. And, that’s an issue that we, as adults, must find a way to figure out so that we can deal with it.
In a case of an LGBT teen, as Corey was, it’s really not too hard to see where their vision of a too-bleak world comes from. The bullying they endure from their peers at school and in cyberspace is only exacerbated by the bullying they see from adults in the news and on the Internet. Bullying directed specifically at the LGBT community. They’re hearing the message from politicians and so-called religious leaders that their lives are invalid. That their feelings are moot. They’re seeing and hearing, as hate-filled, intolerant politician after hate-filled, intolerant politician attempt to legislate their own bigotry, that the bullies they deal with in school are only a mirror-image of what they perceive as the real world. As states like North Carolina legislates hate and discrimination, the message is driven home that they are second-class citizens, that their lives will always be inconsequential, that there are people in power who don’t care a bit if they end their life. They hear that. They see that. And, guess what? So do the ones who do the bullying. They feel vindicated in their actions because they, too, see and hear that same message.
Make no mistake: no one should ever allow someone else define who they are. It doesn’t matter if “they” hate you. That’s their burden to carry. What’s important is loving yourself, first and foremost. However, that is also a very difficult message to get across to an already fragile teen. Jamie Hubley had an amazing, very loving and supportive family. He had incredible friends who still adore him. Yet, he couldn’t see past the negatives of life long enough to wrap that warm blanket of support around himself. Smart money says that that is the issue in many of these tragic events. That was the issue with Corey Jones.
So, sadly, we say goodbye to yet another young person. A young person who will never get to know just how good life could’ve been. Corey, I wish things could’ve been different for you. And, to his friends and family, I wish you love and support during this incredibly trying time.
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