NYC Activist Joseph Jefferson, 26, Hangs Himself

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    Oct 26, 2010 6:01 AM GMT
    NYC Activist Joseph Jefferson, 26, Hangs Himself

    http://www.queerty.com/suicide-nyc-activist-joseph-jefferson-26-hangs-himself-20101025/?ref=nf

    Joseph Jefferson — a 26-year-old New Yorker who graduated from Harvey Milk High in 2002, worked at Gay Men of African Descent on HIV prevention, and is described as an "advocate for LGBT youth" — hanged himself Saturday.
    His last Facebook message shared with his friends, "I could not bear the burden of living as a gay man of color in a world grown cold and hateful towards those of us who live and love differently than the so-called 'social mainstream.' Belonging is one of the basic human needs, when people feel isolated and excluded from a sense of communion with others, they suffer. I have been an advocate for my peers and most importantly youth because most have never had a deep emotional attachment to anyone. They don’t know how to love and be loved in return. The need to be loved can sometimes translate to the need to belong to someone or something. Driven by that need….. Most will do anything to belong."
    The exact circumstances behind Joseph's suicide are unclear, but there's no mistaking the internal pain and strife. I hate that the thought even goes through my head about hearing of "another one," because none of these young LGBT people deserve to be clumped together in some statistical table. But as each week passes, and we learn of another person who concludes ending his life is a better choice than living it, the picture becomes bleaker and bleaker.
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    Oct 26, 2010 8:47 AM GMT
    icon_sad.gifRIP
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    Oct 26, 2010 10:58 AM GMT
    I too am sick of the thought of these suicides. Please, if any of you read this and feels like Joseph, reach for help not for the end of your life. You have gifts and value that are needed in this world. You may not see it but you may even help save someone elses life someday.

    At 51 I know some of the pain life can produce in our lives but each day is yet unwritten. And believe me life does change. One thing that does not ever change is our last breath on this earth.

    You are not along on this journey, ever. Please, please, stop and reach out.

    Last year two on my hetro friends saw no need in their lives..but failed to tell anyone of their pain until they were found dead. Both had children. Both had friends....hundreds that showed up for the funerals but all too late to help. They were not alone but they just couldn't see pass their pain to even ask.

    Reach out before you give up....I care... Every life is a gift...ever single one.

    RIP Joseph.
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    Oct 26, 2010 11:34 AM GMT
    I may get lambasted for what I am about to write, but before I get into the meat of my comments I would like to say the following:

    ANYONE who has even the tiniest whisper of a thought about hurting himself, let someone know. YOUR LIFE IS PRECIOUS and YOU ARE LOVED.

    Now to my comments:

    What a selfish, conceited, self-serving, asshole, pussy this guy is. How dare he kill himself. After all of the lives he has reached, after all of the time he spent working with young gay men of color, seeing the plights they faced, after witnessing first-hand what they face, he decides it's best to kill himself and undo all the work, all the good he could have ever done. His final "work" in killing himself is to give an excuse and negative example of what to do.

    At a time when we should be pulling together, at a time when those of us who are on the front line, dealing with issues of bullying, hatred, racism, and everything in between, we need to be strong, we need to be there for one another. This man, while he did good in life, is a coward in death BECAUSE he turned his back on people who genuinely counted on him, on people who love him.

    If anyone reading this should be contemplating suicide, don't do it. You are loved. Your life is more precious than any gold or diamond ever could be. You still have good to do in the world. Shoot me an email. We can talk. Life is too precious to waste.
  • Sparkycat

    Posts: 1064

    Oct 26, 2010 11:55 AM GMT
    I respectfully disagree. He was only human. He carried tremendous pain inside him, and heroically battled it while helping many people. Apparently, the pain became too great. I can understand that. It's selfish to insist he should have been a living martyr.

    HungGarSig saidI may get lambasted for what I am about to write, but before I get into the meat of my comments I would like to say the following:

    ANYONE who has even the tiniest whisper of a thought about hurting himself, let someone know. YOUR LIFE IS PRECIOUS and YOU ARE LOVED.

    Now to my comments:

    What a selfish, conceited, self-serving, asshole, pussy this guy is. How dare he kill himself. After all of the lives he has reached, after all of the time he spent working with young gay men of color, seeing the plights they faced, after witnessing first-hand what they face, he decides it's best to kill himself and undo all the work, all the good he could have ever done. His final "work" in killing himself is to give an excuse and negative example of what to do.

    At a time when we should be pulling together, at a time when those of us who are on the front line, dealing with issues of bullying, hatred, racism, and everything in between, we need to be strong, we need to be there for one another. This man, while he did good in life, is a coward in death BECAUSE he turned his back on people who genuinely counted on him, on people who love him.

    If anyone reading this should be contemplating suicide, don't do it. You are loved. Your life is more precious than any gold or diamond ever could be. You still have good to do in the world. Shoot me an email. We can talk. Life is too precious to waste.
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    Oct 26, 2010 11:57 AM GMT
    Couldn't agree more. No doubt he helped others and that hopefully will be what is remembered over time. But this ia one act not to be followed. None of us knows really what pushes him to that point but it is a pity he didn't feel he had any other way. There is always a way.
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    Oct 26, 2010 12:03 PM GMT
    I have to respectfully disagree with you, good sir. In the line of work that he did, he should have known better; furthermore, I would argue that he had more of a responsibility to have acted better because of the nature of his work and his high profile in that community. I realize that he was only human, but he was an educated, well-resourced human who had knowledge of and access to constructive outlets for his pain. I know well how that pain can become so great. I would have never asked him to become a living martyr. I would have, however, asked him to be considerate of the countless people who relied on him and his love and support. I would have asked him to think about his responsibilities, about his connections with the people whose lives he changed, the lives he bettered. I would have asked him what I could do to help him. What is truly sad is that he felt that there was no one out there willing to offer him the love and support he evidently needed.

    Sparkycat saidI respectfully disagree. He was only human. He carried tremendous pain inside him, and heroically battled it while helping many people. Apparently, the pain became too great. I can understand that. It's selfish to insist he should have been a living martyr.

    HungGarSig saidI may get lambasted for what I am about to write, but before I get into the meat of my comments I would like to say the following:

    ANYONE who has even the tiniest whisper of a thought about hurting himself, let someone know. YOUR LIFE IS PRECIOUS and YOU ARE LOVED.

    Now to my comments:

    What a selfish, conceited, self-serving, asshole, pussy this guy is. How dare he kill himself. After all of the lives he has reached, after all of the time he spent working with young gay men of color, seeing the plights they faced, after witnessing first-hand what they face, he decides it's best to kill himself and undo all the work, all the good he could have ever done. His final "work" in killing himself is to give an excuse and negative example of what to do.

    At a time when we should be pulling together, at a time when those of us who are on the front line, dealing with issues of bullying, hatred, racism, and everything in between, we need to be strong, we need to be there for one another. This man, while he did good in life, is a coward in death BECAUSE he turned his back on people who genuinely counted on him, on people who love him.

    If anyone reading this should be contemplating suicide, don't do it. You are loved. Your life is more precious than any gold or diamond ever could be. You still have good to do in the world. Shoot me an email. We can talk. Life is too precious to waste.
  • Latenight30

    Posts: 1525

    Oct 26, 2010 12:12 PM GMT
    It can happen to anyone. One of the discoveries I've made of myself being a gay male is as a population we are stronger. We have been teased. We know we don't have the same rights as others. We have to be more careful in the park. People do view us a bit different no matter how long they have known us.
    I keeps the fire in my belly to do what I have to do, if it be mundane day to day work or make tough choices in life.
    Pain and Hard time make you a stronger person. It makes us more creative me love stronger and hurt more.
    This is sad that someone working for the 'cause' felt he could do no more. Now the rest of us have to pick up the slack.
    RIP Joseph
  • rioriz

    Posts: 1056

    Oct 26, 2010 12:12 PM GMT
    HungGarSig saidI may get lambasted for what I am about to write, but before I get into the meat of my comments I would like to say the following:

    ANYONE who has even the tiniest whisper of a thought about hurting himself, let someone know. YOUR LIFE IS PRECIOUS and YOU ARE LOVED.

    Now to my comments:

    What a selfish, conceited, self-serving, asshole, pussy this guy is. How dare he kill himself. After all of the lives he has reached, after all of the time he spent working with young gay men of color, seeing the plights they faced, after witnessing first-hand what they face, he decides it's best to kill himself and undo all the work, all the good he could have ever done. His final "work" in killing himself is to give an excuse and negative example of what to do.

    At a time when we should be pulling together, at a time when those of us who are on the front line, dealing with issues of bullying, hatred, racism, and everything in between, we need to be strong, we need to be there for one another. This man, while he did good in life, is a coward in death BECAUSE he turned his back on people who genuinely counted on him, on people who love him.

    If anyone reading this should be contemplating suicide, don't do it. You are loved. Your life is more precious than any gold or diamond ever could be. You still have good to do in the world. Shoot me an email. We can talk. Life is too precious to waste.


    Agree wholeheartedly!!!!
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    Oct 26, 2010 12:40 PM GMT
    Something doesn't sound right with this one. I don't think it had anything to do with his being gay. It sounds like he had a lot more emotional pain involved than he posted in his FB message, and in his moment of despair, failed to note because it was too painful to write.

    He had dedicated his life to helping others get through the same problems he "claimed" to be the cause of his depression. Sounds to me like he already had a form of depression that had gotten out of hand, and he didn't recognize it for what it was. Being gay may have amplified it, but I just don't think that was the cause.

    RIP Joseph. My heart goes out to all those you helped. icon_sad.gif
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    Oct 26, 2010 12:44 PM GMT
    paulflexes saidSomething doesn't sound right with this one. I don't think it had anything to do with his being gay. It sounds like he had a lot more emotional pain involved than he posted in his FB message, and in his moment of despair, failed to note because it was too painful to write.

    He had dedicated his life to helping others get through the same problems he "claimed" to be the cause of his depression. Sounds to me like he already had a form of depression that had gotten out of hand, and he didn't recognize it for what it was. Being gay may have amplified it, but I just don't think that was the cause.

    RIP Joseph. My heart goes out to all those you helped. icon_sad.gif



    Quite right. Something isn't meshing with his Facebook post. This one turns my stomach in a way the other recent tragic suicides did not. HungGarSiq is correct.

    Honestly, he might as well just have posted "it does NOT get better." So much of the good work undone with one act. It just pisses me off.

  • BeingThePhoen...

    Posts: 1157

    Oct 26, 2010 12:58 PM GMT
    I just hope that those that looked up to him don't begin to consider suicide as an answer.
  • slimnmuscly

    Posts: 541

    Oct 26, 2010 1:09 PM GMT
    It's been a long time since I read Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point, so I may get some of the details wrong, but I recall him describing suicide as a "contagious" behavior among young people and citing instances in which media attention to one teen suicide apparently had the effect of giving other teenagers what they saw as "permission" to emulate that self-destruction.

    I know this activist was older than most of the other recent suicides, but I can't help thinking these suicides reflect a dark and dangerous side to the way news spreads so far and wide so quickly. While gay suicides -- and for that matter, gay bashings or even anti-gay slurs -- almost never used to get attention, now it seems as if no such incident goes unreported and undiscussed (though that may not actually be true). Hopefully the overall net impact is still positive in terms of consciousness raising, and the lives being saved may -- one hopes -- greatly outnumber those lost. But I can't help wondering if the coverage itself isn't contributing to what seems like an epidemic, and I don't know what the solution is. Surely not censorship or ignoring the issue, but what?
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    Oct 26, 2010 1:13 PM GMT
    slimnmuscly saidIt's been a long time since I read Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point, so I may get some of the details wrong, but I recall him describing suicide as a "contagious" behavior among young people and citing instances in which media attention to one teen suicide apparently had the effect of giving other teenagers what they saw as "permission" to emulate that self-destruction.

    I know this activist was older than most of the other recent suicides, but I can't help thinking these suicides reflect a dark and dangerous side to the way news spreads so far and wide so quickly. While gay suicides -- and for that matter, gay bashings or even anti-gay slurs -- almost never used to get attention, now it seems as if no such incident goes unreported and undiscussed (though that may not actually be true). Hopefully the overall net impact is still positive in terms of consciousness raising, and the lives being saved may -- one hopes -- greatly outnumber those lost. But I can't help wondering if the coverage itself isn't contributing to what seems like an epidemic, and I don't know what the solution is. Surely not censorship or ignoring the issue, but what?


    It's an interesting debate. The media, at least respectable news orgs, have long had a strict policy of not reporting on suicides unless they were done in high-profile places or somehow happened blatantly in the public eye. That policy has been relaxed quite a lot lately, with editors saying "well why shouldn't we, aren't we contributing to a stigma by not reporting them?" It's a big debate in newsrooms everywhere. I wonder if the relaxing of the no-report policy for suicides is such a good idea.
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    Oct 26, 2010 1:14 PM GMT
    Well, the level of frustration amongst gays is so high. Obama's election raised hopes so much. And now he has become the instrument of delay and obstruction. It is really bound to affect people who lives are really wrapped up in it. I guess this is the ultimate burn out.
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    Oct 26, 2010 1:23 PM GMT
    I have thought about it many times. Of course I have not tried it yet, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. I understand their frustrations, I have been leading a life I absolutely hate. I often wonder how long I can hold out under pressure.

    Please don't be so quick to judge, you really have no idea what kind of monsters people have to deal with everyday. Sometimes it just doesn't get better.
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    Oct 26, 2010 1:28 PM GMT
    HungGarSig saidI may get lambasted for what I am about to write, but before I get into the meat of my comments I would like to say the following:

    ANYONE who has even the tiniest whisper of a thought about hurting himself, let someone know. YOUR LIFE IS PRECIOUS and YOU ARE LOVED.

    Now to my comments:

    What a selfish, conceited, self-serving, asshole, pussy this guy is. How dare he kill himself. After all of the lives he has reached, after all of the time he spent working with young gay men of color, seeing the plights they faced, after witnessing first-hand what they face, he decides it's best to kill himself and undo all the work, all the good he could have ever done. His final "work" in killing himself is to give an excuse and negative example of what to do.

    At a time when we should be pulling together, at a time when those of us who are on the front line, dealing with issues of bullying, hatred, racism, and everything in between, we need to be strong, we need to be there for one another. This man, while he did good in life, is a coward in death BECAUSE he turned his back on people who genuinely counted on him, on people who love him.

    If anyone reading this should be contemplating suicide, don't do it. You are loved. Your life is more precious than any gold or diamond ever could be. You still have good to do in the world. Shoot me an email. We can talk. Life is too precious to waste.


    Watch your mouth! icon_evil.gif
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    Oct 26, 2010 1:32 PM GMT
    Without knowing the whole story, it's hard to make sense of this suicide. But given the general reasons people commit suicide, I just wish this guy and the other gay guys who've committed suicide in the past had experienced and accepted true love--love that would have sustained what little hope they had.
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    Oct 26, 2010 1:32 PM GMT
    ANDCB saidI have thought about it many times. Of course I have not tried it yet, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. I understand their frustrations, I have been leading a life I absolutely hate. I often wonder how long I can hold out under pressure.

    Please don't be so quick to judge, you really have no idea what kind of monsters people have to deal with everyday. Sometimes it just doesn't get better.



    No, you are not the only one who has to deal with monsters, in the past or present.

    I like the "it gets better" campaign, but it's shortcoming implies that if you take no action, better days will come to you. I believe you have to meet fate half way... You must make positive, forward-moving decisions, take action that benefits you and brings you closer to a happy life. Overcoming the strong adversity in your life is a challenge, but people do it every day... And I promise you, some of the adversities people overcome are worse than yours. If you meet fate half way, then yes... It does get better.

    I wish you the best... Please be strong, please find the happiness and long life you deserve. It's there.

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    Oct 26, 2010 1:33 PM GMT
    slimnmuscly saidIt's been a long time since I read Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point, so I may get some of the details wrong, but I recall him describing suicide as a "contagious" behavior among young people and citing instances in which media attention to one teen suicide apparently had the effect of giving other teenagers what they saw as "permission" to emulate that self-destruction.

    I know this activist was older than most of the other recent suicides, but I can't help thinking these suicides reflect a dark and dangerous side to the way news spreads so far and wide so quickly. While gay suicides -- and for that matter, gay bashings or even anti-gay slurs -- almost never used to get attention, now it seems as if no such incident goes unreported and undiscussed (though that may not actually be true). Hopefully the overall net impact is still positive in terms of consciousness raising, and the lives being saved may -- one hopes -- greatly outnumber those lost. But I can't help wondering if the coverage itself isn't contributing to what seems like an epidemic, and I don't know what the solution is. Surely not censorship or ignoring the issue, but what?


    I've read a couple of Gladwell's books, which are mostly drivel, in my opinion. He tends to piece mail his research, citing studies but rarely telling the whole story unless it happens to fit his angle. He should have been smart enough to tell the whole story. Suicidal behavior can be linked to media trends, but suicides have been happening and will continue to happen amongst LGBT youth well after the media grows bored of the issue. I recommend we all look into year-over-year suicide rates among LGBT youth. I'd argue that you'd not see a significant increase (if one at all) from 2008-2009-2010. I know a lot of families choose not to publicize the reason(s) for their child's suicide, and many never know, themselves, but let's not assume that any human being on the verge of suicide is going to off themselves b/c it's the trendy thing to do.

    I mean, this isn't Heathers we're living ... or is it?
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    Oct 26, 2010 1:34 PM GMT
    I'm sure that a number of us have thought about suicide because it seems like the best way out for the pain we are experiencing. But, I know that my life is worth so much more and that things will get better.

    It's such a shame, and very saddening, that a young man who has provided for and helped out a number of disadvantaged youth would take his own life. Sometimes the strongest ones are the most vulnerable unfortunately. Something has gone terribly wrong with our society when people feel as if they have no one to turn to, belong to, and confide in.
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    Oct 26, 2010 1:35 PM GMT
    So sad.

    And we always have to remember that when people express as this guy did...you have to wonder if there are issues with depression, etc., that were unrecognized and untreated.
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    Oct 26, 2010 1:36 PM GMT
    ANDCB saidI have thought about it many times. Of course I have not tried it yet, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. I understand their frustrations, I have been leading a life I absolutely hate. I often wonder how long I can hold out under pressure.

    Please don't be so quick to judge, you really have no idea what kind of monsters people have to deal with everyday. Sometimes it just doesn't get better.


    Thank you for posting. It takes a strong person to look at his life and realize that it is not something that he wants. It takes a stronger person still to tell other people that. I believe that the basic meaning of "community" necessarily means that regardless of the circumstances the members of said community help one another.

    My personal commentary on the tragedy that is the loss of this man's life is a commentary on how the community has failed, both how he failed the community and how it has clearly failed him. We need to support one another and help each other through the shitty parts of life.

    I know what monsters people face and I was almost lost to them myself. I know how closed off, how lonely, how painful it can be. I also know now that there are people out there who do love and care for me and I would definitively say the same for you--at the very least I have a love of and care for you in my heart. I encourage you to continue to reach out, as you are doing now. Monsters are monsters anywhere, but the thing about monsters is that they can be defeated and I, for one, am willing to help you with yours. Shoot me an email. Please.
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    Oct 26, 2010 1:36 PM GMT
    I am seriously running out of explanations for the unfortunate rash of gay suicides... Too many good people gone before their time..
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    Oct 26, 2010 1:45 PM GMT
    ANDCB saidI have thought about it many times. Of course I have not tried it yet, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. I understand their frustrations, I have been leading a life I absolutely hate. I often wonder how long I can hold out under pressure.

    Please don't be so quick to judge, you really have no idea what kind of monsters people have to deal with everyday. Sometimes it just doesn't get better.


    I know how you're feeling, and probably understand at least some of what you're going through. I've been there; boy, have I been there. There's nothing that anybody can say to make your particular journey easier, but I'm telling you that it will get better. Maybe not tomorrow or next week, but it will get better.