As social media shifts boundaries, a student's suicide shows a darker side

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October 1, 2010


"Easy gathering and distribution of information are hallmarks of the digital age. They played out all too disastrously for first-year Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, three days after roommate Dharun Ravi, 18, allegedly made and streamed online a secret video of an encounter between Clementi and another man. Clementi's body was identified Wednesday. Ravi and Rutgers freshman Molly Wei, also 18, have been charged with invading his privacy, and Middlesex County prosecutors say bias-crime charges are possible.

"...Much of the Internet debate focuses on whether what happened to Clementi amounts to a hate crime against gays. Hayley Gorenberg, a lawyer with Lambda Legal, a national LGBT civil-rights organization, said she was terribly saddened but not at all shocked to learn of Clementi's death. 'We know the rates of suicide among LGBT youth who do not feel supported are sky-high,' she said. 'Social media can be a fantastic source of support for youth who feel isolated, but the potential is there for depersonalization that removes perpetrators from the face-to-face interaction.'"


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