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Candlelight vigil to remember gay teen suicides

BOONE—The recent suicides of Jamey Rodemeyer of Williamsville, N.Y., and Jamie Hubley of Ottawa, Canada, will be remembered during a community candlelight vigil Monday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. on Sanford Mall at Appalachian State University.

The vigil is being sponsored by the university’s LGBT Center.  The public is invited to attend.  Free parking is available on campus within walking distance of the mall.

The guest speaker will be Nathan Belyeu, senior education manager of the non-profit Trevor Project.  Belyeu is a 2008 graduate of Appalachian.

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The organization is determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including a nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone.

Town of Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson and Appalachian’s dean of students, J.J. Brown, will also speak at the event.  Blessings will be offered by The Rev. Shelly Wilson of High Country United Church of Christ, Christine Davé, assistant director of Learning Support Services at Appalachian, and Swathi Priya, a graduate student in the Department of Social Work.

Mark Rasdorf, graduate assistant at the LGBT Center and second-year graduate student in Appalachian’s clinical mental health counseling program, organized the inaugural event held in 2010.  “It is a privilege to be a part of this year’s vigil and I hope we have started a tradition for this community,” he said.

Tommy Wrenn, a sophomore public relations major and a volunteer at the LGBT Center, is the lead coordinator for this year’s event. “Last year’s vigil was such a meaningful experience, and I am so happy to be a part of making it happen again. I hope that we can continue to make a difference while honoring those we have lost, the names we see in the news, as well as the names we never hear,” he said.

Jamie Hubley, a 15-year-old high school sophomore from Ottawa, Canada, took his life on Oct. 14. Hubley documented his life experiences, his struggles as a gay teen and his depression in a blog.  Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old from Williamsville, N.Y., died Sept. 18. Rodemeyer maintained a candid video blog documenting his struggle with harassment and the cyber bullying he endured as a gay teen.

This year’s vigil will include a moment of silence to honor the lives lost due to bullying and harassment of any kind.  Information on local and national resources also will be shared.

Online resources related to teen suicides and LGBT crisis prevention are available at

www.glbt.appstate.edu, http://counseling.appstate.edu,  www.thetrevorproject.org and  www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Or call 1-800-723-TALK.

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