Image: Rutgers candlelight vigil
Reena Rose Sibayan  /  AP
People participate in a candlelight vigil for Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi at Brower Commons on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, N.J., Sunday, Oct. 3.
updated 10/4/2010 12:59:45 AM ET 2010-10-04T04:59:45

Rutgers University held a silent vigil Sunday night to remember a student who committed suicide after his sexual encounter with a man in his dormitory room was secretly streamed online.

The tribute to 18-year-old freshman Tyler Clementi drew a few hundred people, many holding candles, to the school's campus in New Brunswick.

While some area religious officials briefly addressed the crowd during the hour-long vigil, few words were spoken by the participants. Most in attendance took the time to reflect on what had happened to Clementi, sharing hugs and holding hands with others in a show if unity.

  1. Related content
    1. Was Rutgers suicide case a hate crime?
    2. Posts indicate student turned to staff before suicide
    3. Internet was help, and hell, for Rutgers freshman
    4. Outrage on campus after sex-video suicide
    5. Student secretly taped having sex kills self

Among those attending was Rutgers student Julie Burg, who said she wanted to spread the message that help is available for students in crisis.

"There are many groups anywhere you go to that could help support you," Burg told WCBS-TV in New York.

Burg was joined at the vigil by her mother, Annmarie Burg, who was saddened by the events leading to Clementi's death.

"It had to take such an unfortunate incident like this to create, probably, an even larger awareness," the mother said.

Prosecutors say Clementi's roommate and another student used a webcam to broadcast on the Internet live images of Clementi having the intimate encounter.

Image: Tyler Clementi and a fellow high school student
Sam Fran Scavuzzo  /  AP
This June 2010 photo provided by the Ridgewood Patch shows Tyler Clementi, left, hugging a fellow student during his 2010 graduation from Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, N.J.

Clementi, a promising violinist, jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River three days later. His body was identified Thursday.

'Dignity, compassion and respect'
Rutgers President Richard McCormick said the vigil was an opportunity for students and staff to come together and "reaffirm our commitment to the values of civility, dignity, compassion and respect."

The vigil was the latest in a series of remembrances for Clementi at the university that included the establishment of a Facebook group, In Honor of Tyler Clementi.

On Friday, students wore black and were encouraged to leave flowers or mementoes at a makeshift memorial for Clementi. The Rutgers Glee Club marched to the memorial and performed a rendition of "Rutgers Prayer," which is traditionally sung when an important member of the Rutgers community dies or a tragedy happens at the university.

On Saturday, the school had a moment of silence for Clementi before the start of its homecoming football game against Tulane.

Clementi's death was one of a string of suicides last month involving teens believed to have been victims of anti-gay bullying. On Friday, more than 500 people attended a memorial service for Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old central California boy who hanged himself after enduring taunts from classmates about being gay.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Rutgers suicide captures nation’s attention

  1. Transcript of: Rutgers suicide captures nation’s attention

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: This week's suicide of a Rutgers University student, the victim of a cruel and humiliating prank, has captured the attention of the nation. But the incident was not as rare as it might seem, and now there are increased calls for action to help young people when they're most vulnerable. NBC 's Rehema Ellis has our story.

    REHEMA ELLIS reporting: Today a moment of silence at the Rutgers University homecoming game to remember Tyler Clemente . The 18-year-old freshman, who was a high school honors graduate and a talented musician, killed himself only days after two classmates, one of them his roommate, allegedly used a webcam to secretly videotape Clemente in his dorm room in a sexual encounter with another man, and live streamed the images over the Internet .

    Unidentified Man: Those memories...

    ELLIS: In California on Friday, the funeral of another gay student who committed suicide, 13-year-old Seth Walsh .

    Mr. SHAWN WALSH (Seth's Brother): I just wish people would have been nicer to him.

    ELLIS: In the past month, at least five gay teenagers have taken their own lives, shocking deaths that have led to new calls for action, including this one from talk show host Ellen DeGeneres .

    Ms. ELLEN DeGENERES: My heart is breaking for their families, for their friends and for our society that continues to let this happen. These kids needed us, and we have an obligation to change this.

    ELLIS: Garrett Wedel was bullied the summer before he started high school after classmates learned he was gay.

    Mr. GARRETT WEDEL: I got text messages, like -- they were just horrible, like, you know, it was very depressing.

    ELLIS: Garrett became so distraught he considered taking his own life.

    Ms. ANGELA WEDEL (Garrett's Mother): He called me one day at work and he said, 'I'm in the garage, and I have a knife. And I don't like myself and I don't like my life. There's no reason to go on.'

    ELLIS: Garrett got the help he needed through the Trevor Project , a national suicide prevention hotline for teenagers struggling with their sexuality.

    Mr. DANIEL RADCLIFFE: If you're feeling helpless or hopeless, there's always a safe place to turn.

    ELLIS: Back in New Jersey , the parents of Tyler Clemente , who never got help,

    issued a written plea: "Our hope is that our family's personal tragedy will serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity," a hope that comes too late for their son, who was supposed to perform his first concert with the Rutgers Symphony tonight. Instead, the orchestra is dedicating its performance to Tyler 's memory and leaving his chair

Data: Tormented teens


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments