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After gay teen’s suicide, Utah town to hold community meeting, vigil

Friday, April 27, 2012

OGDEN, Utah — On Monday, April 23, 18-year-old Alex Smith spoke on a community panel at a screening of a film on bullying, telling the packed room about the bullying his boyfriend, Jack, experienced at school.

What no one in the room yet knew, including Alex, was that Jack had already taken his own life.

Jack Reese

The death of Jack Reese, 17, of Mountain Green, on Sunday is the latest known suicide of a gay teen in Northern Utah.

According to one official, off the record: “It happens here about once a week,” but then quickly adds, “but officially, you know, it doesn’t happen here.”

Now, OUTreach, an Ogden-based LGBT resource center, is hosting a community panel and discussion, “A Community Stands up – Northern Utah Addresses LGBT Bullying and Suicide” on May 1 at the Ogden Amphitheater in Ogden.

The purpose of the event, according to Marian Edmonds, OUTreach Executive Director, “is for the community to stand in solidarity with queer youth, to speak out and express grief and outrage at yet another loss of life in Northern Utah, and to witness for the need for immediate change in schools, churches and society.”

“Until all youth are loved and accepted in their homes, able to attend school without fear of bullying, and know that their lives are worth living, this community will continue to demand change,” Edmonds said in a statement.

Several community leaders, educators, parents and youth are expected to speak at the event, including active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

At the request of Smith, a candlelight vigil in memory of Jack will be held at the conclusion of the event.

“The youth I work with all know either a victim of bullying, the loss of a friend to suicide, and most often, both. These youth are bright, creative and loving, yet too often face daily abuse from rejecting families, bullies at school and the loss of their church family.” said Edmonds.

“It is time for local schools to incorporate proven techniques for eliminating bullying and homophobia, for churches to preach love and acceptance, and for parents and families to love and accept their children. Each loss of life is a loss for all of us, and it must stop now,” she said.

Liz Owen, Director of Communications for PFLAG National, reacted to the news of Jack’s death:

“Earlier this week we learned of the death by suicide of yet another young LGBT person in Ogden, Utah. Today, along with the leaders of PFLAG Ogden and the entire community, PFLAG National mourns the loss of Jack Reese as well as the other young people in the Ogden community who have died in similar circumstances,” Owen said, in a statement.

“The local chapter of PFLAG along with a broader caring group of adults have been working together tirelessly to address issues of the importance of family acceptance to the youth in this community and similar communities all over the state; sadly, the death of Jack Reese is a reminder that there is still much work to be done. PFLAG National will continue to support the chapter–and the community at large–in their work to create safe home and school environments for all youth.”

Funeral services for Jack were held Friday morning in Ogden.

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34 more reader comments:

  1. Lord please, no more!!

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:05pm
  2. What can even be said?

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:05pm
  3. -sigh- I came out today, and I only wish this poor soul had the support that I did…its sad that people can be so damn judgmental.

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:05pm
  4. Awww :( sad seeing good people pass away

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:07pm
  5. why cant people get a long woith us gay people dam if it was not for the straight people the gay people would not be here.so u straight people can blame your selfs

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:07pm
  6. So sad :(

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:09pm
  7. and if it was not for the straight man and woman .us gay people would not be here

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:09pm
  8. How tragic. Such a waste of a young life.

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:16pm
  9. IF YOU STILL THINK HOMOSEXUALITY IS A CHOICE YOU ARE STUPIDLY MISTAKEN. WHY WOULD ANYONE CHOOSE THIS LIFE AND KILL THEMSELVES BECAUSE OF ALL TH BULLYING,ETC.? GOD MADE US. GOD DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES. STRAIGHTS OUT THERE REALLY NEED TO GET WITH IT. YOU ARE VERY NIAVE!!!

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:17pm
  10. We were BORN this WAY!! dammit…my heart breaks for the tragic loss !!

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:24pm
  11. That is sad

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:35pm
  12. I remember clearly what it was like growing into maturity as a gay 20 something during the 90s in Ogden. Despite how things have progressed for the good its so hard to believe how far we still have to go. Some of the basics- it seems like we’ve gone backwards somehow. The culture in Utah must change as well. Being a homosexual behind the Zion curtain presents its own set of unique challenges. I hope to see paradigm shifts on these issues in Utah and the rest of the world sooner than later.

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:36pm
  13. i can understand its hard being happy with so many mean ppl!

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:38pm
  14. another senseless loss :(

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:43pm
  15. We´re born this way.There are serious medical studies with twin gays,trans,etc and all of them point out to the gene factor.In mtf transexuals,the hypothalamus is turned feminine by a genetically less potent testosterone,etc,it´s all proven but of course the World Health Organization insists in categorizing sexual dysphoria as a mental disorder.It´s all about religious and retrogade ideologies hindering true progress and secularization,civil rights being jeopardized by prejudices disguised into science.

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:44pm
  16. And there are many sorts of other intersexuals (transexuality is just one of them),women born genetically males are one example. Intersexuality is not as rare and always externally idenfiable as mainstream science makes it appear to the general public.

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 6:46pm
  17. Because of the hurt and torment, our kin do these things to themselves >< Can’t everyone just get along? Seriously…

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 7:10pm
  18. Rest in peace <3 my prayers go out to you your family and friends

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 7:56pm
  19. Utah needs to get their act together. Luckily for me I wasn’t bullied in school and was well liked by most. I only ran into the conflicts with my parents due to their LDS beliefs. Gay teens need love and care ESPECIALLY in Utah LDS families.

    Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 8:14pm
  20. So sad!!!

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 7:23am
  21. Wake up Utah! Get your head out of the sand!

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 7:53am
  22. I think if this was because of bullying the need to start prosecuting these people and or the churches for encouraging this type of behavior against gay people. If I get my way Watch out Westboro Baptist Church.

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 8:16am
  23. What are we doing to our children? Why have we become a nation of drones – where all of our kids have to be the same, where it’s not ok to be different and LOVE yourself because you are? When will we wake up and see that we as a nation are killing our children? And for what? God? I’m so unbeatably sad and tired of the hate and intolerance spewing forth nationwide. Especially since its at the expense of our youth.

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 8:37am
  24. From Canada. My thoughts are with the family… My family always are afraid that hate homophobia will eventually get me killed yet I am proud to be who I am and will make a stand agaist that all that s*it

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 8:41am
  25. Good for you Noel, always stand up for yourself! Love an acceptance for ones self and others makes all the difference in the world!

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 9:12am
  26. Jesus another suicide, when are ppl going to wise up to what is happening, we need ppl to strive to understand, which will lead towards tolerance, which in turn will transform into acceptance.

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 9:12am
  27. P.S. ppl like Santorum do not help the situation at all…

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 9:13am
  28. Well, I would definitely like to go to this being that I live in Ogden now. So sad there are so many suicides ugh.

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 9:51am
  29. *’Teens – gay or straight – more likely to attempt suicide in conservative towns’ – By Lindsey Tanner – AP – Published by MSN – 04/18/11
    ‘Chicago – Suicide attempts by gay teens – and even straight teens – are more common in politically conservative areas where schools don’t have programs supporting gay rights, a study involving 32,000 high school students found.’

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42635619/ns/health-mental_health/t/teens-gay-or-straight-more-likely-attempt-suicide-conservative-towns/

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 10:19am
  30. Mormons are one of the scourge of the Earth….along with other conservative Christian crazies. Any who are “believers” and who attended this even should be comdemned to enternal damnation (if it exists)….what horrible creatures they are–so full of hate. They’re worth less than the oxygen they consume.

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 10:38am
  31. Prettty sad that kids whether they live is small towns or huge cities commit suicide because of being homosexual, all this bully behavior going on ,THIS HAS TO STOP WE ARE LOSING TO MANY KIDS…

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 10:59pm
  32. Oh no,, this not start with RELIGION.

    Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 11:00pm
  33. Hi sorry too this ! Curtis & Pat partners for 28 years .

    Posted on Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 8:37am
  34. I strike (M1GS) for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is for all the kids who have been bullied to death!

    Posted on Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 9:40am