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Why Monica Lewinsky relates to Tyler Clementi, the gay Rutgers freshman who killed himself

Why Monica Lewinsky relates to Tyler Clementi, the gay Rutgers freshman who killed himself

It was in the fall of 2010 that Tyler Clementi, just three weeks into his freshman year at Rutgers University, jumped off a bridge to his death.

The 18 year old had been secretly streamed via Webcam kissing another man by his dorm roommate and his death was one in a series that raised awareness of suicide among gay teens.

For Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern whose affair with US President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment in 1998, Clementi’s suicide re-opened some old wounds.

In a first-person article for Vanity Fair, the now 40 year old writes that her mother was especially distraught: ‘She was reliving 1998, when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal.’

‘The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life – a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death.’

Lewinsky writes that she never actually attempted suicide but had suicidal feelings on several occasions during the height of the scandal and after.

One way she could relate to Clementi’s experience was the online aspect of it.

‘Thanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet,’ she writes.

After Clementi’s death, she writes that ‘my own suffering took on a different meaning.’

This is part of the reason why, after years of silence, Lewinsky has re-emerged.

‘Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation. The question became: How do I find and give a purpose to my past?’

Part of that purpose ‘is to get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums.’