Suicide claims another LGBT youth: Eric James Borges, 19

From the Facebook page of EricJames

Eric James Borges, 19, of Visalia, California, succumbed to suicide Wednesday, January 11, 2012.  Known as EricJames to his friends, he was an intern with the Trevor Project, and a Supplemental instructor at the College of the Sequoias.

Word began spreading late Wednesday among shocked and saddened friends and acquaintances.  Not accepted by his birth family, EricJames was striking out on his own, trying to deal with his personal situation, but also wanting to help others.  Sadly, even involvement with the Trevor Project was not enough to help him navigate the turbulent waters of young adulthood.

EricJames posted this video on November 10, 2011.

EricJames also made a “It Gets Better” video, and posted it in December of last year.

I met EricJames recently, at the launching of My LGBT Plus, a youth oriented resource site, based in Fresno, California.  A brief introduction left me with the impression of a fine young man, and I regret that I did not get to know him better.

Friends have begun planning a memorial, details will be updated here as they become available.

Our condolences to the family and friends of EricJames.

If you are finding it difficult to deal with the issues of being LGBTQ, the Trevor Project is available, with peer counselors available to talk to you about problems you may be facing.  Contact them at The Trevor Project, or call the toll-free hotline, at 866-488-7386.  Help is available, and people are ready to listen.

UPDATE: Friday 1/13/12 0400 PST
The first of two memorials has been announced.

From the Facebook event page by College of the Sequoias – Theatre Arts Department
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
3:00pm until 6:00pm

College of the Sequoias Theatre
915 S. Mooney Blvd, Visalia, California
View Map · Get Directions

As much of our community now knows, our student and friend, Eric James Borges, succumbed to suicide on Wednesday evening, January 11. The world has lost a beautiful, gentle, and nurturing soul from his passing, and the COS Theatre Department would like to provide an opportunity for his friends and admirers to gather together to discuss his life and his legacy. We will be showing some of his work, reading from some of his stories, and offering an outlet for folks to ask questions and receive guidance during this difficult time. If you would like to offer any assistance with this gathering, please contact Professor Chris Mangels at chrism@cos.edu.

If anyone would like to talk to someone about the loss of EricJames, or may have thoughts about suicide , please contact the the Trevor Project lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Please feel free to spread the word about this event.

Facebook event page.

A second memorial service is planned for Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Spiritual Awareness Center 117 S. Locust St., (map) Visalia

UPDATE

Due to the expected turnout, the venue for Saturday’s memorial has changed.

The new location is The Lamp Liter Inn, 3300 W. Mineral King, Visalia, Map

1:00 pm Facebook event page, here.

43 Comments

  1. Shalom שלום All,

    On the sad day that we have lost a young soul ERIC JAMES BORGES I feel the need to make few points to all of us to think about. Knowing well that some of you were helping ERIC and just as sad as I’m for loosing ERIC. I hope we all will take what I’m about to write in the positive open eye so, WE (yes we are all in it together) can hopefully prevents it from ever happening again. So here I go and sorry up front if it will be a bit long and strong, because I feel so mad that we lost ERIC.

    The first thing we do when we learn about the lost of ERIC is to point fingers at his family that rejected him and started the down hill snow ball. However as you who knows me and in the good words of Mr. Michel Jackson have we looked at the “Man in the Mirror”? What have we (Yes, his extended LGBT family) done to help ERIC to see that life is worth living and “It gets Better”. Did we take the time to have ONE on ONE talk with ERIC to learn what his needs and challenges are at this cross road in his life? Or we felt that Texting and impersonal social media will do that, well my friends I think NOT. We can not bring ERIC back to us, but I like for all of us to make a pledge here and now in ERIC honors that before we are pointing fingers at the world out there, we’ll look inwards to see how each and every one of us can be up front with one another, knowing that we have each other for our support. Again I like thank you that worked with ERIC and I feel your pain even though I have never had met ERIC.

    In closing I would like to send my condolences to his family and friends.
    I know that we all are going to do our best to help cease tragedy.
    Please help me to pray for ERIC soul.
    Yours truly,
    Adi

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    • The Trevor Project has helped countless young people. Tragically, they, as any support group, can’t help everyone, all the time. Sometimes even those who are trying to be part of the solution have dark moments they can’t emerge from. All we can do is try to reduce those numbers, and help who we can. Trevor Project does excellent work, and there are people alive now who would not be if it were not for the dedicated folks at Trevor and other organizations.
      We’re all angry, sad, and upset at the news of EricJames death. But his passing does not negate the good work done by so many.

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    • Suicide is not predictable. There is no way to know ahead of time or prevent or stop someone who has decided to die. The Trevor Project has brought the issue of LGBTQ+ Youth Suicide to the forefront of our minds. Thank Goodness for the hours and energy spent by people who care enough to at least DO SOMETHING to try to triage the wounds. Our LGBTQ+ Youth are bleeding out! The Trevor Project is one organization that brings much needed awareness and support to LGBTQ+ Youth about how “normal” it is to feel suicidal when they are rejected, abused, bullied and ignored by their own communities. Dr. Kristin Beasley

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      • AA and NA are extraordinary organizations. I have issues with the religiosity of AA, but I digress. Like any support group, AA and NA will help you to become a better person. The groups will introduce you to people who are in similar situations (or were) as you are in. No one ever said that AA would wave a magick wand and fix a person’s life. People need to have the desire to fix their lives before anything will change. All of the support in the world won’t help if you don’t want to get better. I imagine the Trevor Project is similar. They can be there for you when you need them, but if you don’t have the will to change or get better, nothing is really going to be different.

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  2. It saddens me to see such a tragedy when so many of us are trying to prevents such acts. It does get better, and there are so many resources that are waiting for you. When Tyler Clementi took his life, I vowed to help by telling my story of how I handled life on the college campus with a gay roommate (http://amzn.com/1460948645) and a NYC roommate who had full-blown AIDS. Please
    save yourself from these degenitives.

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  3. I never knew Eric. But I know his face. It’s the face of so many young people struggling with their sexuality. I want to offer my thoughts and prayers to his ‘true family’ who stood by him and supported him. Please continue on your journey to help those like Eric. Keep him in your hearts. Your wonderful dedication is so important. RIP Eric. Hopefully now you have found the peace you sought.

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  4. Oh Eric. This breaks my heart. Nobody deserves to feel like there’s no other choice but to give up. And his parents should be ashamed of themselves. 1 Timothy 5:8 says “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” If they’re such hardcore Christians they should have remembered that first and foremost. But I’m an atheist so I can’t even process how someone could use religious nonsense to justify turning on their own children, and I don’t understand hating someone because of the way they’re born. Fear and ignorance is destructive and honestly, unacceptable in the society that we live in. We can access any scrap of information ever known to humanity through the internet, so being completely ignorant and bigoted with all the knowledge available to us at all times is just kind of lazy. Or it stops being ignorance and starts being stupidity and blind, irrational hatred.

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  5. I think someone needs to investigate in depth why Eric killed himself. This case is puzzling, Given his It Gets Better video and his involvement with the Trevor project, one would think think he now had enough support. There is something we don’t understand. It seems that we don’t have the full picture.

    I don’t think we can be more effective against the wave of LGBT youth suicides until we study cases like this in depth to understand why he killed himself, what he needed and didn’t get, what was tried and didn’t work. One advantage in Eric’s case is that he presumably talked to a lot of people about his problems; so, there are a lot of people who could be interviewed.

    This could be done by a mental health researcher or book writer, maybe even a coroner, who would have the advantage of being able to subponae his therapist, teachers, principal, bullies and relatives. For the sake of suicide prevention, we have got to get to the bottom of cases like this, even it means disturbing people.

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  6. I DO espouse placing blame. How can we expect our youth to have healthy views of themselves, while, RIGHT NOW, the entire republican party has an open microphone espousing their hatred and predjudice legally over every media possible. Newt Gingrich just said that the real war is against religion and implied that christians going to church on sunday morning suffered more discrimination than the gay community. As if they are beaten, sometimes to death, for going to church. Sometimes those Americans living on the two coasts forget that there is a giant interior where gay bashing, school discrimination, police discrimination, hospital discrimination and those wonderful loving church goers espousing their hatred are considered absolutely normal. I’m 48 years old. And the only way I survived was a very hard head and leaving this country of “liberty & freedom” touting hypocrits for more civilized shores. Good luck to the U.S. in it’s battle to save itself from it’s sink into the dark ages.
    The loss of this beautiful, beautiful young man breaks my heart and insights my rage. But as long as you let ultraconservatives scream unchecked, even in the public forum, it’s only going to get worse.

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    • Kerry, you make a couple of good points, but you do realize that EricJames lived in California (one of the two coasts), not the midwest, right? There are unempathetic jerks everywhere, just as there are caring, non-judgmental people everywhere. Painting an entire region of the country with such a broad brush is stereotyping and displays ignorance. I am an athiest, but I live in a small town in the heart of the midwest bible-belt, full of churches of all denominations. When our high school has prom, we always have several young people “walk in” with their same-sex dates, and there is no controversy–the applause they receive from the community attending the “walk in” is just as loud and appreciative as the applause for the opposite sex couples. We do not tolerate gay bashing, school discrimination, police discrimination, etc.

      Most people try to change a bad situation rather than running away. Maybe you should use your self-imposed distance from the U.S. to re-examine your own judgmental stereotypes.

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      • You are correct, James. I’m angry. But you and I are having this dialogue on a restricted forum. All America’s not hearing it. On the other hand those great denominations have the floor. Everyone is forced to listen to the same tired arguments of the threat to culture and traditional marraige, while the most moderate of arguments are still watered down clichés about tolerance. Personally, I don’t wish to be tolerated. I wish to be accepted. No one blasts these bigots as what they are. No one on the national level is just saying, openly that sexuality is normal, have at and stay out of the bedrooms of the people and the politicians. The right is the extreme right and the left is the watered down middle. I’m aware that this young man was on the west coast. Imagine what that says about being gay in Oklahoma. Stereotypes ? Saying that I’m stereotyping the preponderance of sexual intolerance in the U.S. is a flat denial of the truth. It’s saying that my friend Mike didn’t get decapitated after being shot in the head. Ralph didn’t get left on his back to drown in his own blood in the emergency room after being beaten. Kevin didn’t get his bones broken with no files charged against the well known perpetrators. I’m aware that their are good people in the U.S. But why aren’t they screaming on high to shut the mouths of bigotry that I see almost every day from the U.S. ? There are laws that say one cannot insite acts of hatred against a minority. Why aren’t these laws applied ? Ann Coulter came here and she was almost arrested for what she was saying, and she should have been. Yes, I’m angry. But I’m not stereotyping, I’m observing. And I didn’t run away. I chose a better place to be. A place where I am legally married to my partner of 12 years, recognised by my entire country, and able to run our openly nudist guesthouse with the license and support of my government and straight community. Vive la vrais liberté. And, sincerely, good luck to you. I do not want to see the U.S. fall any further backwards.

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  7. I am sorry that the author of this blog is not a believer, but I want to post here, anyway.
    I do not know the young man who killed himself to whom you are all sad to have lost – as am I, but I would like to say that I am a Southern Baptist who lives in the buckle of the Bible belt, and although my faith does not condone his lifestyle, it most certainly DOES NOT condone the ousting out of a gay person from one’s family. I know this is going to make some of you angry, and I’m sorry about that, but we all have our different beliefs, but our faith believes that homosexuality is a sin, but no more a sin than when I drove over the speed limit (the law of my government), this morning. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Not one more than another. ALL. EQUALLY. For ANYONE to mock, hurt or otherwise injure this young man, or any other gay person, is wrong – says I and says my church family. Like every other person, gay people should be loved and embraced. I’m sorry if an extremist who does not understand Christ’s teaching has made any gay person believe any differently. And I am heartbroken about the passing of this young man. God loved him just as God loves me, and as God loves all of you.

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  8. Hi Joseph B.,
    Interesting article. I read it through, word for word. But if your implication is that I suffer a victim’s mentality, it’s really quite the opposite. I fight back. I have refused to be a victim my entire life and have done well. And yes, that makes the perpetrators of homophobie angry, and may place me in some danger sometimes. So be it. That makes me no victim. Unfortunately, I have friends who couldn’t fight back. They didn’t have the strength for it. Certainly not their fault. Unlike the point made by your refered article, they have 0 % responsibility in their sufferings. If being in the wrong place at the wrong time is being on the sidewalk with your boyfriend as you go into the local gay bar is the article’s version of being partially responsible, well then, as I suspect, this article is at least partially, if not mostly incorrect. And I actually suspect that your motivation for sending me the link has less to do with helping me with my mental health, and more to do with a judgemental commentary. I could easily dissect the link you gave me, and how it does not apply to the case at hand, that is the injustices of institutionalized homophobie, but it wouldn’t do any good, would it ?

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  9. Note: I just want to bring it back. This is about Eric James Borges. His tragic exit. I like to think he’d be happy to know that he inspires such heartfelt dialogues and debates. But I can’t KNOW that. But in his honour, I’ll keep fighting for him, and for girls and boys and men and women like him till my last breath and beyond. You have my word on that, Eric.

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  10. What do you mean “succumbed to suicide” That’s the passive tense, and is a big part of the problem. Suicide is a choice. It is a bad choice. Not all choices are good choices, and this guy seems to have made a lot of bad choices. Maybe if people around him were better examples, he would have grown up with a backbone.

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    • Maybe you can share with us how we could have been “better examples” for EricJames (19), Tyler Clementi (18), Seth Walsh (13), Jeffrey Fehr (19) and the many others who have taken their own lives, not because they did not have “a backbone” but because so many are missing a HEART?

      What is that you do to help LGBTQ+ Youth?

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    • “succumbed” is the proper term. People don’t wake up one day and make a choice to kill themselves. They didn’t make a “bad decision” one day, their passing is the result of a disease process that often time works over decades before causing death. EricJames, and others, succumbed to depression and bullying just as if they had been ravaged by cancer.

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  11. Condolences to the family who drove EricJames to end his short life?

    Never, not from me, not in a thousand years.

    My condolences go to everyone else who supported EricJames, and befriended him.

    Rejection by his so-called ‘family’ drove this young man who had barely lived to commit suicide. They are a disgrace. EricJames’s parents chose religious dogma over their own son. It won’t matter to them that he is dead, they didn’t want a gay son anyway.

    Every time I hear another story like this, it drives a bigger wedge ever deeper between me and fundamentalist religion.

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    • Bravo Mr. Williams. There needs to be a wedge between all freedom loving people and “fundamentalist religion”, which is THE biggest threat to the future of the United States, indeed humanity as a whole, be it fundamentalist christians, orthodox jews or radical islam. Get that jealous, vicious evil god of the old testement out of our politics ! Québec succeded with the “quiet revolution” which basically through the catholic church out of government. The same needs doing in the U.S. I whole heartedly agree that there is little sympathy to be had for Eric’s funamentalist family, unless, of course, they realize in an epiphany what they’ve done. I almost hope that they don’t for their sakes. If they suddenly realize how wrong they’ve been, they’ll never have another happy moment in their lives. This is a no winner situation.

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  12. Suicide utlimately must be viewed as a resignation whose terminus is nothingness for the person who makes and acts and executes upon that choice, that resignation. It has no other discernable conclusion for anyone, survivors who were family, friends, sympathetic or antithetic, believers or non-believers, et cetera. Causality, blame, recrimination, resolve, coaslescing or dividing, and so many other reactions are just that: reactions. Even the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, to which I subscribe, teaches that no human, individual or institution, can presume or pass judgment upon the state of the soul at stake at the moment of his or her passing.
    As a sixty year old survivor or parental suicides, there are two things I and my sister are sure of: the pain never subsides, and we still have the choice to live and work on to make of our lives a contribution that honors the dignity of each and every human soul.
    Live to help, help while living. Judge not. Forgive even if one can never forgive. The cycle of resignation can only be addressed one friend to one friend at a time.

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    • Maybe we could quit worrying about the “dignity of human souls” and concentrate more on the dignity of human lives, t’would be better ? After all, the Roman catholic church has always worried about souls, while trampling lives. (No examples needed here as they are abundant.) That is, if you examine the real actions of that institution for the last 1600 years and counting.

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  13. We are all saddened by the loss of another gay male brother. It is not always only just our youth that turn to suicide, but gay male adults follow the same path. Let us remember those that have left us and find a way to remember them. It breaks my heart to continually here of those leaving us and we can only hope that others will find their way to the help they need through the many good organizations out there trying to help them. Let us also remember that “Coming Out” is not always the best thing to do, as there is a time and place for everything in sociality as a whole, hate and prejudices will be with us for as long as we have the freedom to express ourselves as we choose, good vs evil.

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  14. Has anyone from our community spoken to EricJames’s parents, or know how to contact them?

    I’ve not seen them named anywhere in the news media, nor any public comment from them as to how they have reacted to his suicide.

    I agree with all the commentators to this page who feel this cannot be allowed to simply end with EricJames’s death.

    Like

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