"I'm standing in the cold rain near the George Washington Bridge, just days after 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman, tragically jumped to his death," says Dr. Phil. "So the issue here is: Is this a prank that was intended to be harmless, or something much, much deeper that involved homophobia? Imagine this young man's last 24 hours as he saw what had been posted on the Internet, people telling him about it, and those last moments spent on this bridge thinking, there's no other way. There's nowhere to turn. Bottom line, another tragic death from bullying."
While in New York, Dr. Phil had the opportunity to speak with Blake, a 27-year-old man who says Tyler reached out to him to during the time he was struggling with his sexuality.
[AD]"What do you think as you look at this?" Dr. Phil says, gesturing to the overcast New York skyline. The George Washington Bridge looms in the distance.
"Just looking at it, it creates a whole new sense of reality. It's frightening," Blake admits.
"Tell us how you knew Tyler."
"Tyler actually found me through Facebook. I ran a couple of support groups, and he e-mailed me a very simple question: 'How did you go through your situation in college?' Blake answers, acknowledging that he is an out gay man.
Dr. Phil probes deeper into Tyler's background. "When you talked to him, did he indicate that he had not come out to his family, he had not come out to his community?" he inquires.
"He did mention that he was not ready and probably would never come out," Blake replies.
"What would have been the impact on you, if someone had done this to you, if they had streamed this video of you with another man before you had come out to your family and friends?"
[AD]"It would destroy me. I would isolate myself. I would not want to be seen. When somebody does this to you, it changes the person; it changes your character. Bullying, and outing people and discriminating against homosexuality, it is destroying people in ways that aren't covered in the media," Blake says. Gesturing to the bridge, he says, "This is the reality of what people are doing."
Dr. Phil is joined in his studio by Nina, a Dartmouth University freshman who attended high school with Tyler Clementi. "You knew him for the four years that you guys were in high school," he observes.
"Yes, I did," Nina answers. She smiles as she remembers her friend. "My freshman year, I had the honor of having a class with him, and we worked on a project together. After talking with him for a while, he began to warm up. As soon as he started opening up, he had a lot to say. He was a great kid, one of the sweetest, most admirable people I could ever have been friends with."
"Did people in high school know that he was gay?" Dr. Phil asks.
"No," Nina replies. "He never saw himself as coming out."
Nina shares some positive remembrances of Tyler. "Walking down the hallways, he'd be the first person to say hi to me. He was so wonderful, had such a sweet disposition, and he was a friendly, happy guy," she says. "He's a beautiful person who is greatly missed."
"Was he bullied in high school?"
"Not that I'm aware of. He never shared anything with me about that."
[AD]Nina recalls how she first learned of Tyler's death. "When I was sent this news, I had no idea. I went into the common room [on campus], and turned on the TV, and saw the headlines and was in complete shock."
"This was out of character for him," Dr. Phil says.
"Absolutely. I never saw this coming. This was a huge shock."
If a friend or loved one is talking about or planning to take his or her life, reach out for help now. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255).