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After teen’s suicide, Ogden to hold community meeting, candlelight vigil

On Monday, April 23, an 18-year-old Ogden resident on a community panel spoke about the dangers of bullying. Alex Smith told the packed room about the bullying his boyfriend, Jack, experienced at school.

On Monday, April 23, an 18-year-old Ogden resident on a community panel spoke about the dangers of bullying. Alex Smith told the packed room about the bullying his boyfriend, Jack, experienced at school.

What no one in the room yet knew, including Alex, was that Jack had already taken his own life.

The death of Jack Reese is the latest known suicide of a gay teen in Northern Utah.

One official told Ogden OUTreach director Marian Edmonds, off the record: “It happens here about once a week, but officially, you know, it doesn’t happen here.”

OUTreach is hosting a community panel and discussion, A Community Stands up – Northern Utah Addresses LGBT Bullying and Suicide on May 1, 6:30 p.m., at the Ogden Amphitheater, 343 E. 25th St., Ogden. The purpose of the event is for the community to stand in solidarity with queer youth, to speak out and express grief and outrage at yet another loss of life in Northern Utah, and to witness for the need for immediate change in schools, churches and society.

Until all youth are loved and accepted in their homes, able to attend school without fear of bullying, and know that their lives are worth living, this community will continue to demand change, Edmonds said in a press release.

Numerous community leaders, educators, parents and youth will speak out for acceptance and love for LGBT youth, including active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A candlelight vigil in memory of Jack Reese will be held at the conclusion of the event.

“The youth I work with all know either a victim of bullying, the loss of a friend to suicide, and most often, both. These youth are bright, creative and loving, yet too often face daily abuse from rejecting families, bullies at school and the loss of their church family. It is time for local schools to incorporate proven techniques for eliminating bullying and homophobia, for churches to preach love and acceptance, and for parents and families to love and accept their children. Each loss of life is a loss for all of us, and it must stop now,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds underscored the need for accurate education and guidance for ethnically and religiously diverse families and cited the work of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University – a research-based education, support and policy initiative that helps ethnically and religiously diverse families – including Latter-day Saint families – support their LGBT children in families, schools and faith communities to prevent suicide, substance abuse, HIV, homelessness, school victimization and family disruption. FAP uses a culturally grounded approach that strengthens families and promotes their LGBT children’s well-being. FAP’s family education materials are available online in three languages at familyproject.sfsu.edu/publications.

About the author

Michael Aaron

Michael Aaron is the editor and publisher of QSaltLake. He has been active in Utah's gay and lesbian community since the early 80s and published two publications then and in the 90s.

26 Comments

  • This is so sad. Wish kids would think about how they hurt people. Jr high and on is the most confusing of times and bullying can make anyone question if they are needed in this life! My heart breaks for everyone who lost jack reese. Wish I could be there at the vigil but I have work. I didn't know him, but I do want all of the lgbtq community to know it does get better and we all belong here in this life. We all need to speak up and stop the bullying.

  • Jack's death is tragic. My heart goes out to Alex, Jack's family, and all those who knew him. I was planning to attend the panel discussion the other night and was unable to do so. I'm so sorry. 🙁

  • First, of course, condolences on yet another death that didn't need to happen.

    But second: the Family Acceptance Project really needs to take another look at their name. As the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party realized, acronyms are important, and you don't want one whose other meaning is distracting from your cause.

  • No change of venue. The gathering will be held at the Ogden Amphitheater this Tuesday at 6:30.

  • Take this down now. Jack Reese is my little brother… No one asked the family permission to post this here or any other website, and I’m offended that this is posted on this site.
    There were other things going on besides him being ‘bullied for being gay’ that lead to these tragic events.

    I understand there needs to be awareness for these things but RIGHT NOW my family doesn’t need this, we want to remember him not what happened. And it seems like the happy memory of my Brother is being out weighed by his tragic death.
    Jack wouldn’t have wanted all this attention.

  • Scott,

    Your attempts to discredit me on my own websites have also been deleted within a minute of you posting them. I have flagged your Facebook posts as abusive.

    I don't need photos of your penis sent to me. I don't need to be called names, yet you constantly barrage me with emails at various accounts. Hence, I sent a very demanding plea for you to stop.

    What, exactly, do you want from me? Please tell me. You, yourself, say you found your long-lost boyfriend, which is why you reached out to me in the first place. What more do you want from ME?

    -Michael

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