ROCHESTER, Minn. — An openly gay teen in Rochester, Minn., took his own life on Sunday, and according to the boy’s father, anti-gay bullying played a “a big part” in his son’s suicide.
Shortly before midnight on Sunday, Jay “Corey” Jones, a 17-year-old student at Century High School, jumped off a pedestrian bridge near his school in Rochester and died, reported the Rochester Post-Bulletin.
Last year, Corey told his father, Jay Strader, he was gay. Strader said he immediately noticed a positive change in Corey.
“I just saw a difference in him, I saw a smile, I saw a little more energy than actually being down and out and depressed-looking,” Strader said. “To me he felt a sign of relief, like, ‘Yeah I got over the hard part, right,’ you know.”
But coming out exposed Corey to other pressures, Strader told Minnesota Public Radio, primarily from bullies at school.
Strader said the teasing Corey encountered at school was a constant struggle for his son, and he was diagnosed with depression.
“He said all of his life they always picked on him,” Strader said. “He’d still try to keep his head up at school, but then he’d come home and be really sad about it.”
Corey was a member of Century High School’s gay-straight alliance, and the cover photo his Facebook page read, “Gay & Proud.”
The school’s Superintendent Michael Muñoz issued a statement acknowledging there have been issues related to bullying in the district, but did not directly address Cory’s situation.