You may recall that Tyler was the Rutgers freshman who jumped off the George Washington Bridge a few days after discovering that his roommate had “recorded” (I put it in quotes because that is not quite what happened) two sexual encounters with another man and “put it on the internet” (again, not quite the truth).
While in the popular imagination, this tragic story is about bullying and homophobia, and possibly religious intolerance and ethnic differences, Mr. Parker’s story reveals even more complexities to the case.
Among the issues touched upon include: social awkwardness (both boys shared a 16′ by 11′ room, yet barely had any direct interaction. It wasn’t for lack of interest, as both spend time investigating one another on the internet); mental health issues (Tyler, in retrospect, had a peculiar interest in bridges for a year, and Dharun was very interested in watching people on webcams); sexual jelousy (“shy and awkward” Tyler immediately hooked up with an older man while his roommate apparently remained a virgin); class (each boy thought the other was beneath his status), what happens when young people gossip and get caught up in group thought, and youthful male hormones (practical jokes, suicidal thoughts).
The article also hits upon how this case was political from the get-go, and how the prosecution of Dharun was over-charged as a result.
Definitely a must-read. Here’s the link: The Story of a Suicide by Ian Parker.