The parents of Jamey Rodemeyer, the 14 year old who committed suicide last week after experiencing relentless abuse from his classmates, told the Today show that even after his death the bullying continues.
In an exclusive interview with Ann Curry, Tracy Rodemeyer revealed that at a homecoming dance attended by Jamey's sister just days after his death, things turned ugly when a song by Lady Gaga -- the teen's favorite singer -- began to play:
“[Our daughter] was having a great time, and all of a sudden a Lady Gaga song came on, and they all started chanting for Jamey, all of his friends... Then the bullies that put him into this situation started chanting, ‘You’re better off dead!’ and ‘We’re glad you’re dead!’ and things like that."
The Rodemeyers say that though Jamey had experienced bullying since the fifth grade because he was perceived as being gay, things seemed to be better for the teen during his first few weeks of high school and they were unaware of the recent anguish felt by their son.
When Curry asked the couple what they would say to other parents who have children who are victims of bullying, Tim Rodemeyer responded, "Badger your kids and make them talk. Or get them the help they need there's lots and lots of other people that maybe they'll talk to. There's lots of organizations that maybe they'll talk to. But get them to talk. We tried to get Jamey to talk to us constantly but he didn't… he just put up a brave face."
He then put forward a call to action saying, "Don't let it go -- if you know they've been bullied in the past keep on them, go to the school, do whatever you have to make sure that they're getting the help they need."
The Amherst, NY Police Department's Special Victims Unit told ABC News that they are investigating Jamey's death. "[We're] looking into the circumstances prior to his death," Captain Michael Camilleri said. "We are not sure if there is anything criminal or not."
North High School in Williamsville, NY, has not issued a statement about the incident at the homecoming dance, but a "message to our community about bullying" has been posted on the Williamsville Central School District's site. The post which includes a link to advice from mental health professionals on helping children cope with loss, reads, in part:
Our school district has experienced a tragedy that involved the sudden loss of Jamey Rodemeyer, a freshman at North High School. The district plans to review all current practices related to bullying and will have conversations about bullying with our school parent groups in coming weeks. The loss of Jamey highlights the need for all of us to support our children and provide them with viable outlets to deal with challenges. Please read the letter to parents and guardians from Superintendent Scott Martzloff that is linked below.