Suicide can carry a dreadful impact on the surviviors, all the more when the loss is so high profile. That truth was on display, painfully on display in last week’s article in The New York Times, about how the Clementi family has adjusted to the loss of their son Tyler. But is that all? Bobby Ross Jr. wonders if there is also a hidden agenda
What prompted a promising college freshman to kill himself? The story turns on that key question.
The obvious answer from the Times’ perspective: the young man’s evil, gay-bashing church:
With Ross, I also thought it curious the church wasn’t identified, and there’s no mention of exactly where they have gone (if anywhere). Or for that matter, even the fact that the Clementis were faithful members of an evangelical church — there really is something sad to see a young man contributing to his congregation knowing how things will turn. That’s an ache.
Nonetheless, the article did not seem to be on the evangelical-bashing mode that Ross hears. Rather, it is more about the family dynamics, the recovery, and the flavor of “where are they now?” In that light, I read the anonymity of the congregation as a sort of respect, the point wasn’t the church’s teachings per se, but a painful sad, mistaken relationship; this line in particular stood out:
” What has troubled her most is the thought that Tyler believed she had rejected him. ”
Tyler was the eldest, the “good” son, even religious, yet he thought of himself as pushed from home, and from his church home; he jumped because he was homeless.
Where there is a condemnation of the Evangelical church (and thus might have benefited from another perspective) it is here: The Evangelical church (or at least the churches I am familiar with) has too often used exile as the way of dealing with its gay youth. That’s a story yet to be told, one larger than that of the Clementis, and certainly it would be more polemical in nature. For now, I’m simply glad that I got to meet the parents.