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Tyler Clementi May Have Reached Out To Gay Website For Advice Before Committing Suicide

Jim Burroway

September 30th, 2010

Tyler Clementi

Gawker has found some posts from a forum at justusboys.com (registration required) written by someone with the handle of “cit2mo,” who describes a situation remarkably similar to Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after his roommate surreptitiously videoed him having sex with another man and broadcasted it on the Internet. The emails are dated September 21 through the early morning of September 22, the day Tyler jumped off the George Washington Bridge.

In the first email on the morning of September 21, “cit2mo” writes:

so the other night I had a guy over. I talked to my roommate that afternoon and he had said it would be fine w/him. I checked his twitter today. he tweeted that I was using the room (which is obnoxious enough), AND that he went into somebody else’s room and remotely turned on his webcam and saw me makeing out with a guy. given the angle of the webcam I can be confident that that was all he could have seen.

A couple hours later, “cit2mo” comes back again:

and so I feel like it was “look at what a fag my roommate is”
–other people have commented on his profile with things like “how did you manage to go back in there?” are you okay?”

and the fact that the people he was with saw my making out with a guy as the scandal whereas i mean come on…he was SPYING ON ME….do they see nothing wrong with this?

In this post, “cit2mo” said that he decided to fill out a room change request form, but noted that changes were not guaranteed.  Later that evening “cit2mo” responds to a suggesting that the spying could be against school policy. “cit2mo confirms that he has found the policy and that anyone who violates it could be expelled. But he takes little comfort in that:

the only things is…there are too many ‘could’s ….the fact that he didn’t ACTUALLY record me (to my knowledge) and the fact that the shool really prolly won’t du much of anything…

“cit2mo” then says he will speak to his Residential Adviser. It appears at this time he hasn’t actually spoken to anyone at the university yet. A few hours later, “cit2mo” posts again:

so I wanted to have the guy over again.

I texted roomie around 7 asking for the room later tonight and he said it was fine.

when I got back to the room I instantly noticed he had turned the webcam toward my bed. And he had posted online again….saying….”anyone want a free show just video chat me tonight”…or something similar to that….

soooo after that…..

I ran to the nearest RA and set this thing in motion…..
we’ll see what happens……

I haven’t even seen my roommate since sunday when i was asking for the room the first time…and him doing it gain just set me off….so talking to him just didn’t seem like an option….

meanwhile I turned off and unplugged his computer, went crazt looking for the other hidden cams….and then had a great time.

All of this corresponds roughly to the tweets from Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, who with Molly Wei, have been arrested and charged with invasion of privacy.

“cit2mo’s” last post is early on the morning of September 22, after he had spoken to the RA:

he seemed to take it seriously…
he asked me to email him a written paragraph about what exactly happened…
I emailed it to him, and to two people above him….

That was early Wednesday morning. “cit2mo’s” posts seemed very calm and rational.  Tyler jumped off the George Washington Bridge at about 9:00 that evening. If “cit2mo” is Tyler — and it seems very likely — then that still leaves an almost fifteen hour gap where we don’t know what happened. Did he receive a message from the university that he interpreted as hopeless? Did the tauntings increase to an unbearable scale? I imagine police investigators will be looking into all of these possibilities and more.

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MattNYC
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

The Smoking Gun has some of the early legal details:

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/revolting/rutgers-suspect-tweeted-taping-scheme

I agree that it will be interesting to learn what transpired in the interim. He does seem oddly calm and rational in these posts.

MarcNYC
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Ravi is a bully and this should NOT be tolerated. I hope he gets jail time and be asked to do community service as well.

Pender
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

I wouldn’t read too much into his calm and rational tone. My understanding is that this is not unusual for people who are on the verge of suicide.

Jason D
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Pender is right. In the days leading up to my roommate’s suicide a few years back all seemed well. The last person he talked to on his phone, less than hour before taking his life, described their conversation as relaxed and somewhat hopeful.

Theo
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Two other mysteries: why does everyone say that the victim was closeted when his Facebook page establishes his sexual orientation and when he felt comfortable inviting guys back to his own dorm? That doesn’t seem closeted to me.

Second mystery: Was he even cammed having sex? His posts to JustUsBoys expressly deny that the cam caught anything other than a make-out session. I don’t see why he would downplay the incident on a website where he was posting anonymously and was seeking advice. Although having your make-out session cammed is still an invasion of privacy, it is surely much less traumatic than being cammed having intercourse.
If he isn’t closeted and only got cammed kissing someone, that would jibe with the general tone of his JustUsBoys posts, where he says that he is “kinda pissed” at the roommate but is not devastated or despondent.

Yet he killed himself only hours later. Clearly there is an important element of this story that has yet to be reported.

Amicus
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Well, this is certainly bad news for the defendants, who will be looking to mitigate by suggesting that Clementi’s suicide was not wholly related to their actions…

I wish the mainstream media would go into the respective high school systems and find out what support LGBT kids get there.

Jim Burroway
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Theo;

I think you’re mistaken when you write: “why does everyone say that the victim was closeted …”

I’m not aware that anyone familiar with this incident is saying that Tyler was closeted. What they are saying is that he was humiliated when a sexual encounter was livestreamed without his knowledge. Whether something is traumatic or not is in the eye of the person who experiences it, not to those of us looking in from afar, so to speak.

All sorts of factors are at play in the background, possibly including possible ongoing difficulties with his roommate and the roommate’s friend, possible subsequent harassment and/or humiliation following the video livestreaming, maybe the reaction of Tyler’s sexual partner to these events.

You’re right, there is probably a lot we don’t know. Tyler’s last post on JustUsBoys was before 7:00 am on Wednesday morning. He killed himself at 9:00 at night. That’s more than “only hours later.” A whole day, more or less, went by in between. An entire day of classes, conversations, encounters, … who knows what was said or what happened in those fourteen or so hours.

Jason D
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

“You’re right, there is probably a lot we don’t know. Tyler’s last post on JustUsBoys was before 7:00 am on Wednesday morning. He killed himself at 9:00 at night. That’s more than “only hours later.” A whole day, more or less, went by in between. An entire day of classes, conversations, encounters, … who knows what was said or what happened in those fourteen or so hours.”

And the thing is, we may never know. Without a note, there’s really nothing to pin this down. There may not have even been another incident.

It’s very human thing for us to want to make sense out of this to find the motive, the moment, the action that sealed the deal, that tipped the scales. We can’t handle the idea that there may not be a reasonable explanation. But that may very well be the case. We crave the sort of orderly explanation that would give our minds some peace. Trust me, I know.

I found my roommate’s body when he killed himself, and I was questioned by the police. I could only offer speculation. He didn’t leave a note and he never said “I’m going to kill myself if ______ does/n’t happen.”

Maybe his date rejected him, maybe he was just under a lot of stress, maybe it was everything, maybe it was nothing, maybe, maybe, maybe. The only person who knows why, is Tyler.

Theo
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Jim B.:

A lot of the online traffic has assumed or asserted that he was closeted and that is why his distress at the webcast took such an extreme form.

If he was not closeted, then obviously he could nevertheless feel humiliated by his roommate’s actions. But in those JustUsBoys posts, he says that he is “kinda pissed” at the roommate but otherwise does not seem devastated. He indicates that he is inclined not to change roommates because his current roommate is “pretty decent” when he isn’t acting stupidly.

He says that he was not cammed having sex, but only making out with a guy. And he even has sex again in the same dorm room after he learns of the roommate’s second attempt to cam him and after sweeping the room for additional cams.

He is more upset by the reaction of a number of the roommate’s friends, which expressed disgust at homosexuality while ignoring the fact that the roommate spied, than he is about the webcast itself.

None of these posts seems to support the idea that it was the privacy violation itself that caused him to commit suicide. I think that either something serious happened in that last day or that we will learn of some issue not directly related to the roommate. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Pender
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Theo, again, I don’t think you should take the guy’s comments at face value. Suicidal people often downplay their difficulties. Often, they seem MORE upbeat and LESS concerned with their problems after in the days before the suicide. Often, those last days are not filled with extreme emotional turmoil or hysterical outbursts — often, they are serene and calm and reflect the person having made an intellectual “case for suicide” to himself and having finally brought his emotions into line with that intellectual case. In his mind, the trauma and suffering is no longer oppressive, precisely because he now has a way to escape them. Often, the biggest emotional impediment to suicide is not fear of death or squeamishness or moral concerns, but rather concern for the suffering the suicide will cause for the friends and loved ones that one leaves behind. That is why suicide notes are actually very rare, and when present are almost bizarrely calm and rational: because the person is trying to avoid thinking about the effect of his suicide on others. They want to think about it like waking up from a bad dream, or turning off a scary movie — they do not want to think about leaving behind people who will suffer.

All this is to say that the emotional calmness he displayed in his writings leading up to his suicide says basically nothing about whether the webcam incident did or did not drive him to suicide. The strongest evidence for that link is (1) that the webcam incident is an egregious occurrence that would be inherently emotionally traumatic for anyone, and (2) that his suicide happened soon after.

Geekydee
October 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Re:suicidal tendency to rational thought
Pender et al, you hit the nail on the head, the mind gets more detached and not so much rational as focused and gets a certain clarity of thought, devoid of emotion. Why do I say this? I was there 5 1/2 years ago. I also had an epiphany of sorts towards religion at the time (challenged God and got an answer from… something) just beforee my Dad found me, so I lean towards the “there is something there” camp towards religion. Is it God? an overmind? Flying Spaghetti Monster? No idea, but I did touch something and things got better and so did I. I had a friend who killed himself after his girlfriend told him to drop dead after he went to her apartment; he asked are you sure? and she told him yes. he pulled out a pistol and shot himself in the head in front of her.

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