17-Year-Old Gay Teen Terrel Williams Kills Himself* Following After-School Attack (UPDATED)

[Is it Real? There seems to be some concern that this story is a hoax because most of the information in it, as initially  reported by LGBTQ Nation and Change.org, is not verifiable. It seems like a really f*cked up hoax, if so, but then again, 4chan exists.

LGBTQ Nation now reports:

What we have been able to ascertain is that the photo that ran with the story was not Terrel Williams — it was a photo of Donny Lumpkins, an individual who is unrelated to this story.

There are conflicting facts in this story, and we sincerely regret if there any errors or omissions in our original story. However, as of this writing at Noon PT on 10/22/10, the above sources still assert the primary fact that Terrel Williams, a gay teen, committed suicide on Oct. 13 as a result of anti-gay bullying. And if that one, and only, fact is indeed true, we extend our deepest regrets and condolences to his family and friends.

The LGBTQ Nation article includes a full rundown of what they've been able to figure out and is worth a read.

The only thing we've noticed besides what's reported on Queerty and LGBTQ Nation is some bizarre discrepancies in the language of the email allegedly from Terrel's alleged boyfriend sent to Queerty.

Like we have this:

To begin with, his death is not a hoax. A reporter i had spoken too, misread what i had said and streamed across the internet that he was hear in washington, but in fact was not.

And then later, this:

I again, said on the same website, what you'll find about me is entirely speculation and rumours.

Rumours? Odd typo for an American, and not something an American spellcheck would suggest.

Furthermore, Brianna has pointed out that it's strange the email from Daric wouldn't mention the fact that the picture circulating wasn't his boyfriend. A commenter on Queerty recognizes the photo from 4chan's "Rate My Looks" board.]

this is not actually terrel williams

On October 13th in Washington, gay 17-year-old Terrel Williams was attacked by five of his Clover Park High School (ETA 10/22 12:19PM: According to an email sent to Queerty from Daric, Terrel did not attend Clover Park High School and this was misreporting by LGBTQ nation) classmates after school. They reportedly shoved him into the wall and broke his ribs. Then Terrel went to his family’s vacation home in Lakewood, Washington, and hung himself in the closet.

His mother Cheryl Williams found his body. His death was by suicide. This is what she said on the internet:

“My son meant the world, and high school bullies pushed him over the edge. I hope and pray, that no other child ever has to go through what he did. Bullying isn’t worth it. Why can’t people just be nice?”

Terrel Williams would have turned 18 on Saturday which was also going to be the seven-year anniversary of his relationship with his boyfriend Daric. From LGBTQ nation:

The boys met and became friends when they were 10 and 9 years old, respectively. “We began as play dates, like anybody else would, and as we got older into the teen years, his parents allowed us to give dating a shot,” said Daric, who is now 16 years old.

“Terrel was a compassionate, fun loving, outgoing person who enjoyed life to the fullest,” said Daric.

“He loved life, but felt the need to take it, because [the bullying] didn’t stop … respectful, whole hearted people like Terrel, and the growing number of others, shouldn’t have to feel suicide is the answer, because bullies won’t stop.”

This is his suicide note:

“I’m sorry to my immediate loved ones, but I feel suicide is the only way out. I felt coming out, and being happy with Daric, was the best thing I could’ve ever done. But I didn’t think it would lead to my death at an early age.

“Today, was the record worst day of my life, some kids at school stole some of my stuff that I got from people I really cared about, and that really pushed me over the top, next to being shoved into a wall, and my ribs being broken.”

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75 Comments

  1. Thumb up 1

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    STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT NOW I CAN’T EVEN FUNCTION ANYMORE OR USE PROPER GRAMMAR OR LOWER CASE LETTERS.
    STOP IT PLEASE EVERYONE STOP BEING DOUCHEBAGS YOU ARE KILLING THESE KIDS AND I HATE YOU.

    People suck.
    I need chocolate.
    R.I.P. All the kids who’ve killed themselves.
    I’m going to go cry now.

  2. Thumb up 0

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    I don’t cry hearing news. I don’t cry hearing about deaths of people I don’t know.
    BUT I AM crying. I am bawling my fucking eyes out because it’s not stopping. It’s not getting better. DADT Reinstated and young kids ending their lives because society is telling them they can’t marry, they can’t serve in the military, they don’t COUNT as humans in the charter of human rights. Shame on you world, shame on you.

  3. Thumb up 0

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    This one broke me.
    The others upset me.
    Saddened me.
    This one broke me.

    At my desk. At work.

    I think it was the note.
    The “record worst” and stolen stuff.
    The people he really cared about.
    The people he left.

    Leaving them seemed more tenable than broken ribs.

    Here is what I think.

    Wait: Obama made a video.

    OK, here is what I think:

    We need to create a panel of GSA students (like ages 12-18, right?) and ask them how to make an anti-bulling support network work. Really work. One they’d use. One that using wouldn’t mean making things harder for them.

    A number to call when you need a ride, knowing where you can get help in your school neighborhoods (like actual doors to knock on if you needed to), etc. Like queer Big Bros. and Sisters, but bigger, more accessible. The technology to ensure a phone rang no more than once before someone picked up, ready to be wherever the kid in need was within minutes. Dykes on bikes. Whatever. Texts. Anything.

    I also really wish models that are used for dealing with chronic truants would be used for dealing with chronic bullies. Holding parents accountable, extending rules beyond school property, etc. After all, when a kid cuts class, it doesn’t matter where you find them – it can be miles from campus – they’re cutting class and will be held accountable. (I realize this isn’t particularly helpful for college kids, alas.)

    It might have the potential to save a life. There ought to be more consequences for the ones bullying and less or no victim-blaming for these poor kids, who are dying, and not even in our arms, but alone, at night, swinging from a tree or a closet or with that one gunshot wound.

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        Yes. Precisely. Maybe people can donate their airline miles. Maybe there can be a slush fund. Maybe folks can help folks get work, give them under-the-table jobs, give them shelter. Love them. Even if they come in twos, like Terrel and Daric.

        First and foremost, the bullies need to be punished. The victims need to be offered alternatives. Hassle-free transfers, to start.

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        Really, I’m going to continue to comment on my own comment. Because I need to speak to someone, even if it is myself. I know that our LGBT youth are a disproportionately large number of our homeless youth. I know that a disproportionately large number of our LGBT youth die of suicide.
        Still. Why can’t we stop this from happening?

        I went to an amazing fundraiser tonight for the Ozone House in Ypsi and I spent 20$ on a collection of stories from young adults who were kicked out of their houses because it was a good collection and 40% of the profits went to the shelter.

        I’m doing what I’m suppose to, but our youth keep choosing suicide, death, as an option to end their harassment. They feel that they are left with no other choice and I don’t know how to stop it.

        Please, world, tell me what to do. Because I will do it if this will stop.

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          I think I love you because of your first two lines ‘I’m going to continue to comment on my own comment. Because I need to speak to someone, even if it is myself.’

          I’ve recovered from my hysterical sobbing (see my comment above) and I realized I needed to think more rationally.

          I remember reading a book when I was younger and I wish I could remember what book it was but I’m sure it was a Young Adult lesbian/gay book. And in the story, someone got kicked out of their house and they found a shelter like home which was for other gay teens in similar situations.

          What we need are selfless people – generous people who have the time and money and are willing to support the cause. In a way it sucks because most of us want to help and want to give and fix things but how many of us have the extra cash lying around to you know buy a house and house stray gays.

          The people who have the money have their heads so far up their asses, don’t believe in these causes and the people who want to make it better don’t have the resources! It’s sad really.

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      Can we make that real now? Change is needed on every level, yeah, but a queer support network on the ground sounds like a good place to start. More than just being out examples in the community, it would be so great if there were people willing to just listen to kids. People available to run interference with parents and, if that fails, show the ways out of there. Find these kids jobs and teach them how to plan for the future. Give them something to look forward to. Be a positive presence. And teachers need to be aware of (and have the power to stop) the casual homophobia and bullying. I feel like we need to go into schools and explain to educators how to deal with this; more than just sensitivity training, they need to understand that these are lives we are fighting for. I’m half tempted to call up every school I went to and tell them exactly what was wrong five, ten years ago when I was too scared to say anything and ask if things have changed, if anyone’s noticed. Start a dialog, idk, something.

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        Check out GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, glsen.org). They’re doing a lot of the work you mention in your comment, but it seems like not a lot of people know about them.

        Go to their website and find out if they have a local chapter in your area. I’ve just started working with mine, and I’m already in love. And if they don’t have a local chapter, start one.

  4. Thumb up 0

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    No. I realize it won’t help anybody to just say “please stop killing yourselves ’cause it upsets me”, and I know how complex and overpowering suicidal thoughts are, firsthand.

    But no. This kid sounded like a wonderful, beautiful human being. The World is just so much worse off without him.

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    This is so sad. Especially the goodbye note. I hope that large media coverage of these events continues and is not just looked at as sensational stories meant to garner a quick peak in viewership. I think continued coverage would push serious thought on stopping/diminishing acts of bullying and ignite action in others not only to speak out but to act out. There are resources but I think if they are personalized or if a stronger, more tangible supportive presence of these resources were felt for people attending high school it would help immensely.

    I’m in college and in charge of the social GLBT group on campus here. I’m also very active in the political GLBT group and my roommate is the director of that. I along with many others spend our time being active in the community supporting vigils, rallies, and getting the big ol’ gaymo word out. We’ve been thinking a lot lately on the best way to affect change or even just awareness. After reading this (and several other articles about the tragic deaths of queer youth) I am thinking that maybe trying to speak at local high schools would be something to pursue. I know I had my own problems with depression and anxiety from being closeted/bullied in high school. These problems didn’t go away until college when I signed up for a gay mentor and felt the support of the community. Now that I’m in a position of some kind of seniority I would love to return the favor of acceptance and love that these kids seem to need. At least when thinking about my own experiences, I missed the bigger picture of what life was like in high school. I felt like the bubble that is high school was all that was out there and I think that looking into introducing real counseling resources (more of college type approaches) and groups into this bubble would be very beneficial.

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        Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether this specific case is a hoax or not. If it’s not Terrel Williams, then it’s some other nameless, faceless kid somewhere.

        We’ve seen a lot of pictures and heard a lot of stories over the past few weeks, and each one of them has been horrific and heart-breaking. But what we’ve seen hasn’t even scratched the surface.

        Statistically, gay kids kill themselves at a rate of several per day. And this has been true for YEARS. Decades, even. The only thing that has changed recently is the media coverage of their deaths. And while we should celebrate the strides we’ve made in drawing attention to this epidemic, we should also be mindful of the magnitude of the fight we have ahead of us. As painful as it is, these pictures and these stories are not going to stop flowing any time soon.

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    Laneia and I have been talking a lot about how all these suicides are boys. Yes can we talk about it. The suicide rate for men has always been significantly higher than it is for women. (8th leading cause of death for men, 19th for women) I was talking tonight with other people about why that is, too, and it’s just… I feel like we try to support each other as women — to a degree. I know so many girls who have attempted suicide, honestly, more than I do boys. But all these cases of gay teens who committed suicide and died of it we’re seeing are boys. we thought; maybe women feel more obligation to stay alive for others (family/children/lovers/friends) in a way, or maybe… god, it’s so hard to discuss without venturing into ridiculous, uncertain cliche….

    w/r/t ‘what can we do’ … do young men have the resources at the ready out there like we do? not that this website can save the world, but i know it’s changed a handful of lives at least, is there something like this for boys? there’s so many gay male websites (and GLBT websites that are really about men) but they’re so slick or so much about sex that maybe it’s hard for younger people to find or feel comfortable in… we’ve been really specific here about the feminist/women-only-forever thing — we have so many unwon wars as feminists/women/lesbians that we can’t possibly bear to take on more… but it’s gender discrimination at the root of this homophobia against men, it’s always about gender, who isn’t ‘doing it right’… but maybe we could try and hunt down just one columnist, somebody, somebody in college or high school, some gay guy who knows how to write for people to talk to. some guy who might answer 215 unanswered formspring questions of various levels of severity. idk. i guess this is the only thing i know how to do. something that will aggressively draw in a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon…

    outreach and caring and us getting all upset and wearing purple t-shirts or making videos about how cute our pets are is like, one thing, but i think the social climate needs to change, massively. like in a way that people can touch without being scared to walk into a clinic or a club or whatever.

    i will feel stupid about every part of this comment when i wake up in 5 hours

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      A lot of teenage boys are terrified of anything resembling gayness. Maybe the uncertainty of puberty that for girls results in experimentation, manifests itself as fear and hate. I’m not saying girls can’t be vicious, but they seem to generally have a less aggressive response to homosexuality. Most girls also seem to have a stronger emotional safety net, simply because we talk. I know I’m making a lot of generalizing assumptions, but this is the impression I get from most of my gay guy friends and how coming out has been for them.

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      I don’t think you should feel stupid about this at all. It has to mean something that we’re mostly hearing about boys comitting suicide. I never knew that statistic before about the difference between men and women.

      I think there’s something true in the part about women feeling an obligation to stay around for others. In my own experience at least. Or maybe the having support thing. I don’t know.

      I know a few people on this site have said in comments to these posts that they’ve been there as far as thinking about it but obviously haven’t gone over the edge. I know I’ve had those thoughts. And every time that I did and felt like it was really scary and like fuck it might be serious, every time, my thoughts would go to my mother finding me. My neice getting the news. My sister-in-law wondering what she could have done to help me. And I just can’t. I couldn’t do that to them. So I survive. And sometimes I wish I wasn’t here anymore and I hide from the world and I’m scared of everything but I don’t think I can ever take my life. It just feels too mean. Too selfish. And I’m not trying to say that people who do take their lives are mean or not thinking of others because that’s horrible and with every new news story I get a little more scared and all I feel is compassion and understanding for them. That’s just my experience.

      If men feel more alone then I think your worries are not at all unfounded and that men need to be able to talk about things and have support too and I would have no problems with seeing an occasional article written by a man. We all need and deserve love and compassion no matter who we are.

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      As a social work/psychology student, one of the things that they teach us is that while women are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to die from it (succeed in suicide, but what a terrible phrase). AKA girls are much more likely to survive a suicide attempt. So while this is obviously a wake up call for everybody about the challenges faced by gay teenage boys, I think it would be a mistake to overlook the girls.I think you would have to see if there have been more girls attempting suicide lately to see if this is affecting boys more than girls, because I’m not sure otherwise that we’re getting the whole picture. Idk there’s a very good chance I’m completely 100% wrong because I’m not thinking clearly because TOO MANY FEELINGS.

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        Couple that with some Australian research saying that queer women are more at risk for attempting suicide… don’t know if that holds in the US but I wouldn’t be surprised.

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      Before the big spate of young male American suicides, there was news within the Australia queer community of the disappearance (and possible suicide) of Mandy Rollins, a well-loved lesbian DJ who was dealing with major depression. I was surprised that amongst all the It Gets Better energy – which also reached Australia – hardly anyone mentioned her, or other queer women facing depression and suicide ideation.

      I’ve been away for 3 weeks so am slowly catching up on Autostraddle, so forgive me if this is already been done – but have you guys done a resource post for female readers that could use help?

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      Was just talking to one of my best friends, a gay male, about this. And yes, it’s practically impossible to talk about it without getting into gross generalizations, but we were just throwing ideas around. We talked about:

      1. Boys are indoctrinated into believing they must be macho at all costs, and that if they aren’t, it is the most horrific thing possible. Gay = effeminate, therefore kill yourself.

      2. Boys are raised to believe that they always deserve respect, so when they don’t get it, it is a devastating blow to their ego, whereas girls aren’t raised to expect respect, so when they don’t get it, they just view this as a part of life.

      Yes, I know those are grossly oversimplified, and any attempt to say “boys are like x and girls are like x” are hopeless, but this is what we discussed.

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    God, HOW can the kids who see the attention these suicides have gotten, who see the PAIN bullying causes, who see the pointless DEATHS it has led to, still have the nerve to continue to bully?!

    It scares me that kids can be so cruel and ruthless…

  8. Thumb up 0

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    NO. PLEASE. STOP. CAN’T. DEAL. TOO. MUCH.
    I may try and write a coherent comment later, when the knots in my stomach recede and my brain isn’t a mush of sad.
    Please stay alive until then, you guys! I love you so much.

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    LGBTQ teen suicides have been going on for so long… i just hope now that we have the world’s attention, things will get better, that these teens will feel that there is hope and that there are more people who support them than who are against them.

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    So I have been wrestling with these feelings since I heard about it yesterday and really I am begining to worry. I am still working to make a strong group of LGBT friends. My mother (who doesn’t believe I’m a lesbian because it just doesn’t happen in our family) begged me to give Conversion Therapy a shot, so for the past 10 weeks I have been meeting with a man trying to “straighten up”. Now that it is over I feel relief, but also sadness because I don’t know if my mother is ever going to be okay or at peace with my choice to live openly. I also wonder if I am going to ever make really good gay and lesbian friends. I remain hopeful, but I think the more I hear about the suicides the more clear it becomes that as an option at really low points, suicide would be better than facing the constant reminders of just how lonely this life can be. But I wish young people would stop killing themselves, because I need somebody to make friends with. I’m a really great person, but my straight friends are uncomfortable (and avoid me) if I say or do anything remotely gay and I feel kind of alone.

    Please stop killing yourselves. I want to know you and the world deserves the chance to know you!

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      so yeah…now that I’m done crying at my desk. I guess I should probably mention that even though being alone is almost as bad as being in the closet, I could never imagine how awful be out and being ridiculed must be. But it does get better, and I wish I knew what I could do to help.

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        I feel this too. I don’t have a community near me that I feel connected to or within reach of. It is really lonely. I’m sorry you don’t have a supportive family. I hope you stick around and that we both find what we’re looking for.

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          Thanks:)

          @ Inthejunkdrawer- I hope so too! :)
          @elida -I really only primarily read Autostraddle, sometimes I get tweets from AfterEllen. I will shoot you an e-mail. It would be nice to have someone to talk to who isn’t being paid by my parents or isn’t trying to convince me that maybe if I understood “proper gender roles” life would be a lot easier.

          @nina She took me out for dinner after I failed my Therapy exit exam. I knew the answers on the test I just didn’t think that it was fair to reduce my emotions to a scan tron.I’m the second of three girls, my older sis got married and has a baby so I figure that she got her dream/wish fulfilled. She is only passive agressively upset about my lifestyle. We actually stopped being close when I was like 10 and I realized I wasn’t like the other two…I just wanted something different.She is worried that I wont have a family and that if I do I will ruin their lives, she is embarassed that our family friends will judge her, she actually has a list of her discomfort. She filled it out as a part of therapy. Mom doesn’t DO therapy, she just sends her kids. Now I’m being a hater, but really I just kinda wish she’d find something else to dislike about me. at least openly.

          @Finnensk My friends are just being Catholic, I understand, before I came out I hated myself and prayed to be better for Jesus…well I had a small crisis of faith and realized that whatever is looking over us had to know at my creation that I was going to be trouble. I am giving them time and loving them anyway.

          @Jude Thanks. I just sometimes feel like there are standards, like I’m not allowed to be emotional online. That disconnect makes things seem kind of superficial which only makes me feel kind of pathetic. But when I need a community and there are people out there responding, I guess I am alright with pathetic.

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          I was raised Catholic too, though I was never a very good or willing one. And I had a crisis in my teens about god and sin. Eventually I came to the conclusion that any halfway decent god would be more aggravated about people who were deliberately hurting other people than about orientation or religion. That any half-way decent god would care more that I lived a decent life, caring about other people, than that I followed some arbitrary set of rules or that I worshipped him. And that if god was really prepared to sling people into hell just for not following the rules, even if they had lived good lives, then I wanted nothing to do with him or his heaven anyway.

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          If you’re still into the Jesus thing but are understandably angry with the Catholic church, there are GLBT friendly churches out there. Metropolitan Community Church, United Church of Christ, various open and affirming churches of other denominations (my mom moved from Catholicism to an open and affirming Lutheran church with great joy)…

          Best of luck <3

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          Wow Concerned, I’m sorry to hear about the rigamarole your family is running you through. It must be insane to be on the receiving end of that. A “Therapy exit exam?” That is nuts. What on earth did it say? I have been trying to wrap my mind around insanity like that since childhood, and it never seems any less insane to me. In any event, my email is northatlanticdiver1 at hotmail, and I don’t think it’s weird to need someone to talk to/want to discuss things/want to vent, etc.

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        Aw, that’s terrible. I’m so sorry that your mother has reacted that way. Has she asked about how you feel after the sessions? If you’re any “less gay”?

        It’s awful that people make a living doing that, messing with emotionally hurt and fragile individuals just so that those around them are comfortable. Because it’s the ignorant families and ‘friends’ of closeted kids who need the therapy.

        Have you asked your mother just WHAT it is about your sexual orientation that bothers her? It’s a pretty stupid question, but seriously, WHAT’s wrong with it? And she may try to project her own insecurities onto “the rest of the world” by insisting that SHE doesn’t have a problem with it, but knows that the rest of the world will. So the logical thing to do is of course to “straighten” you out and suppress your identity so that “the rest of the world” (ie. she) doesn’t have a problem with you.

        I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m attacking your mom. I’m sure that she thinks that she’s doing what’ll be best for you, but parents aren’t perfect. Does she know how much you’re hurting? Maybe the two of you could see a counsellor together?

        You are so so SO much more than your sexual orientation, remember that! I’m sure that it feels like it’s all you’ve been reduced to, at the moment. Were you close with your mom before you came out? What did you do together? Maybe try to show her that all of that is still there, but you just happen to like ladies.

        And you DO have allies here, lots and lots! Always stay strong! :)

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      Concerned, it really does get better. It gets better when you get to meet a wider variety of people than you can get in high school; it gets better when you leave home, if home is unsupportive (as long as you have a sensible place to go).

      Internet friends who understand what you are going through can be helpful, where there is nobody supportive IRL. Posting on and reading Autostraddle, After Ellen, SheWired – anything that helps you to feel a sense of community with other LGBTQ people – can be a lifeline if you live somewhere unsympathetic.

      There are also organisations which can help, but I expect you already know that, since you are on the internet.

      My thoughts are with you and with all LGBT teens and kids in less than supportive environments.

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    @still concerned
    I don’t know what year you are in or anything but seriously once you get on your own specifically go to college things get a lot better. Yeah the first few weeks of college can be ultra lonely cause you don’t know anyone, but trust me you make friends fast. People don’t question how you label yourself, and parents start accepting your your own person and realize that they better just accept you or they will lose your awesomeness to the rest of the world. Hang in, you will make a shit ton of LGBT friends. but maybe your straight friends just need time to get used to this new aspect of you, give time to realize you haven’t changed you just think some girls are hot.

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      so, i did this above as well, and i guess it’s my personal policy now for people who put their emails out there, who feel strong enough and needed enough to reach out to all the babydykes (and who knows maybe gay boys too) on autostraddle, to thank you. so much. i might email you sometime, i might not, but the idea that there are other people to talk to whose sight isn’t clouded by love (my girlfriend) or money (my doctor) is kind of reassuring. the idea that there might be *objective* reasons to stick around. hopefully it will be reassuring to others, as well.

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        “the idea that there might be *objective* reasons to stick around.”

        I really remember thinking this in my younger years. I have discovered that there are many objective reasons to stick around. Like last night I went on a night dive and saw a squid. Neat. In any event, my address is above if needed.

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    I cannot take this any more.

    I saw this story earlier today & was way too numb. It made me sad, but I didn’t react very much. Now I am crying, largely because of your comments.

    I work as a school photographer, & so I go to elementary schools & see hundreds of kids per day, & I want to hug each of them & tell them that whoever they are is okay, even if other kids tease them. I want to talk to the teachers & make sure they are prepared & capable of dealing with homophobia & bullying. Even for the littles that I see all the time, my heart breaks, because I do not want things to be hard for them because of who they are.

    They deserve better.

    I just don’t know what to do. Someone tell me how we can fix this.

    :’(

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    I don’t want to trivialize the very real problem of gay suicides, but I’m pretty sure this one is a hoax. A quick google search of Daric Rawr should raise a lot of flags.

    Regardless, it gets better. Talk to someone.

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    I emailed the Tacoma News Tribune to see if they ended up interviewing Daric Rawr.

    This was their response:

    Hello,
    I asked around and it looks as if we are trying to talk with Daric Rawr, but he has yet to make an appearance in the newsroom.

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