Buffalo, NY (WKBW) -- In just the past several weeks the number of suicides sparked by gay bullying has topped national headlines, and that's just what gay activists want. They argue it's a problem that has largely been ignored by school officials, communities and the media. Now that the issue has taken center stage, they are demanding change.
"Not in my city, not in my state, not in my America!" chanted Kitty Lambert, one of the event organizers.
A crowd of nearly 200 gathered at Delaware Park today, holding poster sized pictures of people who took their own lives after being tormented for being gay. Almost half-a-dozen teens and young people have committed suicide over the past several weeks alone, after alleged gay harrassment.
"Who knows how many whose names we didn't get were bullied to the point of suicide just in this last month since school started," said Reverend Ellen Brauza, another organizer of the event.
Congressman Brian Higgins also speaking at the rally in support of the cause,"A lot of these kids come to realize they're different at a time when the last thing they want to be is different," said Higgins.
It's something Lambert knows well, she was brutally beaten and left in a ditch by classmates when she was in the sixth grade, after revealing she had a crush on a girl.
"I could have actually drowned in that ditch had it not been for a friend of mine who just for some reason stopped and looked in the ditch," explained Lambert.
And one of the more high-profile cases happened less than a month ago. An 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman killed himself after two classmates secretly videotaped him having a sexual encounter with another man in his dorm room. Experts say the many who are victimized like him usually feel like there is no way out.
"If they're strong enough they turn the anger out and they start to hurt other people they become bullies themselves if they're not they turn it in on themselves and they do self destructive things," said Brauza.
There are things to watch for if you feel like someone you love may be suicidal an increase in alcohol or drug use, the person isolates themselves from family or friends, or the person gives away important possessions. For help locally, you can call the suicide hotline run by the Trevor Project at (716) 834-3131.