Karen Ocamb

Another Gay Teen Suicide Because of Bullying

Filed By Karen Ocamb | January 18, 2011 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-gay bullying, gay teen suicides, gay teens, Lance Lundsten, LGBT teen suicide

UPDATE: While this story and many others online reported that Lance Lundsten committed suicide, his father says he died of an enlarged heart. The Sheriff's office now says that the cause of death is "undetermined."

Congress is expected to return to work today with many in the nation watching to see if the hostile rhetoric is toned down following the assassination attempt against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the murder of six people and the wounding of 15 others at a public meeting in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday, Jan. 8.

The LGBT nation will be watching to see if anyone mentions the apparent suicide of 18 year old openly gay Lance Lundsten over this weekend - his friends say as a result of another kind of hostile rhetoric: antigay bullying.

Minnesota TV News station KSAX reports that the Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an emergency call at the Lundsten’s residence in Miltona around 10 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15. Lunsten was taken to the hospital where he later died; the Sheriff's office confirmed that they believe his death was a suicide.

KSAX reported:

On a Facebook memorial page in Lundsten’s honor, friends said that Lundsten had been bullied at school for his sexual orientation. Some students who knew Lundsten believed the bullying may have led to his suicide.

"Bullying is a huge issue, particularly with the youth in our country now," Facilitator of the Diversity Resource Action Alliance Shari Maloney said. "I think because we're in central Minnesota, and we aren't as diverse as some of the larger Metropolitan areas are, someone who is different maybe draws more attention and it's not always positive."

The TV station reports that another Jefferson High School student started a Facebook group in response to the suicide called the Jefferson Anti-Bully Coalition.

Last Nov. 9, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken posted a "We Will Make It Better" video reaching out to LGBT youth who might feel alone and suicidal. In the video, Franken says:

“It’s beyond heartbreaking that so many students have taken their own lives after being bullied for being gay or perceived as gay. To any young people out there who are watching this: You may feel alone and that there’s nothing you can do. But you’re not alone.”

On Monday, Jan. 17, Franken sent his condolences to Lundsten's family and talked with KSAX about anti-bullying legislation he intends to introduce this year.

“My heart goes out to Lance’s family, and friends and loved ones. It’s a tragic event, not only for them, but for the school, and the Alexandria community and really for all of us,” Franken said.

“LGBT kids really do need (more) protection,” Franken said. “They’re two or three times more likely than straight kids to get bullied. Nine in ten LGBT students said they’ve been bullied or harassed and almost two-thirds say they don’t feel safe in school…..(On) Martin Luther King Day … we want to celebrate the American values that have broken down barriers that prevent all citizens from having … the same opportunities to succeed … This is another barrier that still needs to be broken. We need to have more acceptance of LGBT students.” “We need to create in our schools, an atmosphere where bullying isn’t really accepted in anyone.”

The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SDNA) would add LGBT students to groups federally protected from discrimination, school violence and harassment. The Democratic senator said he does not yet have enough support for the bill to gain quick passage.

Lundsten’s funeral is set for today.

UPDATE: While this story and many others online reported that Lance Lundsten committed suicide, his father says he died of an enlarged heart. The Sheriff's office now says that the cause of death is "undetermined."

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Good luck getting that bill through this House. I hope they at least put forth a good effort.

They probably wont. I am so sick of bullying just because you dont fit the perfect look of an american- straight, popular, rich and hot.

Sigh always sad to hear of this but lets hope this will help open more peoples eyes to this whole thing.

Al Franken is an incredible human being.

need updating this a gay suicide after all heart problems

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 19, 2011 2:27 AM

The origins if bullying are remarks like 'gawd's in the mix', politicians voting to put us in a second class status and the violent anti-GLBT positions of priests, rabbis, imams, preachers and ministers. There's an unceasing din of hatred and contempt from politicians and pulpits that emboldens bigots to discriminate and galvanizes thugs to harass, beat and kill us.

Until laws specifically address the violence caused by bigots who oppose same sex marriage, ENDA and similar questions and the even more violence provoking hate speech endemic to cults there's not a chance that bullying will be effected. It's unlikely in the extreme that any bill written by a Democrat will take up those questions.

But if another lame law won't do the trick there are two things will. One is a militant, peaceful self-defense effort by LGBT organizations and the second is a continuously active campaign of direct and mass actions to call attention to the results of political and cult bullying. Those clear results are violence, beatings, murder, and its twin suicide, and discrimination in housing, employment and social services. Those campaigns work very well as demonstrated by the history of the of trade unions and the various struggle movements of the 1960's and 70's.

its sad that kids have to be so hate full, but you have to praise the lonly ones who face it and are here to talk about it like the muslim teen kristian,his bravery must be a lesson to all kids that are being bullied,so every time there is an article of bullying lets the world know that you dont have to commit suicide,be brave and talk to a police officer ,talk to your parents ,talk to a family member,but dont think you are alone