Friends and family are mourning the death of Jack Reese, a gay Utah teen who took his own life last week after allegedly being subjected to anti-gay bullying at school.
Though details of the 17-year-old Reese's suicide are scarce, his boyfriend Alex Smith spoke frankly about the repeated bullying the teen had experienced at school. Smith, 18, reportedly recalled the incidents at a community event earlier this week at which a bullying film was being screened.
As one official is quoted as telling Ogden OUTreach off the record: “It happens here about once a week, but officially, you know, it doesn’t happen here.”
An obituary describes the teen as having been "very good with computers and loved to play his X-Box games."
"Jack loved animals and will miss his cat, Cat," the obit continues. "He was also very good with kids and loved taking care of them. Jack was learning to speak Japanese and loved anything to do with Japan. He was also very good at drawing and photography."
A Facebook group in memory of the teen has been established. "His suicide has impacted so many people," one user wrote. "I HONESTLY hope things will change because of this, but I also wish that it didn't have to come down to this for awareness to actually be seen in others who decide to bully others for their sexuality."
The local chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) expressed its sympathy to Reese's family in a statement:
"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. 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."
As Pink News is reporting, OUTreach announced that an urgent meeting will be held on May 1 to address LGBT bullying and suicide in northern Utah. A candlelit vigil will be held May 1 at the conclusion of the event in memory of Jack.
Take a look at other LGBT teen suicides and bullying cases below: