James, “Jamey” Rodemeyer committed suicide on Sunday, September 18th. He was only 14. Now that he’s gone, Jamey’s online identity is currently experiencing posthumous popularity that may have helped him. News media, the YouTube community, and even his hero, celebrity Lady Gaga, have all turned their attention to Jamey’s digital ghost.
Traditional media picked up on Jamey’s suicide and struggled to put his death into a broader context, as it happened just after National Suicide Prevention week and close to the National Bullying Summit.
And just about an hour ago, Lady Gaga tweeted that she is meeting with President Obama to press for a bullying law. Her tweet ended with the hashtag #MakeALawForJamey, which has already started trending. It was the fourth most popular trending Twitter topic in the United States at time of publication and is rising fast.
Jamey, who was bullied at his high school because he was gay, left a clear trail of pain across his social media accounts. Fellow students also bullied him on the social media sites where he sought solace.
On September 9th, Jamey wrote on his Tumblr: "I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens."
Jamey’s YouTube account, which he used to upload videos of rants, Lady Gaga-related material, and even short thank you’s to his friends telling them how much he appreciated them, has seen a surge of activity since his death.
Jamey, ironically, even made a “It Gets Better” video, part of an online movement of people who have recorded videos encouraging gay teens to tough it out long enough to grow up.
In his video, “It Gets Better, I Promise!” the clearly adolescent teen assured people that it does get better.
That video has surged from a couple hundred views since its upload date in May to over 200,000 views. The video has collected over 2,000 comments.
“It Gets Better, I Promise!” has been embedded into every news story related to Jamey’s suicide or bullying, along with some reiteration of the line “it never got better for James Rodemeyer.”
Most YouTubers, on the other hand, were a bit more introspective, leaving messages on Jamey’s videos paying their respects. In Jamey’s now infamous video, he said “I have so much support from people I don't even know online...They don't ever want me to die."
“I cry everytime I watch this. This video is for me. I love you so much Jamey, forever. You're my angel.” writes jenniferene on his last video, titled “For Jen :).”
“In the wake of this unspeakable tragedy, the anonymity of the internet has led to an increasingly disturbing amount of hateful rhetoric between two opposing viewpoints. can we please respect the family and memory of this boy and disable comments on his videos? …rest peacefully jamey, you've touched many lives although you left us far too soon.” wrote silverhourstarlight on “It Gets Better, I Promise!”
“To all those who bullied him, I hope you realise you have blood on your hands. RIP Jamey, you deserved so much more” commented genialreverie on the same video.
“If you’re a young kid, or even an older person, and you’re having hard times, struggling with being gay, and you need someone to talk to, feel free to talk to me” says aggiepm in his video responding to Rodemeyer’s death.
Aggiepm, 33 and gay, added “I don’t know who you are, but I love you. Your life does matter.”
A petition on Twitter calling for a law for James Rodemeyer, partially inspired by Lady Gaga’s trending hashtag, had some 250 signatures as of time of publication.