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Raymond Chase, at left, happily poses with classmates Xenia Retana and Gregory Smith after the 2009 commencement. It was a doubly happy day for Ray – he told us it was his 18th birthday.

Monticello grad’s death draws national media focus

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — October 5, 2010 — The tragic death of a Monticello native has made headlines across the Web, with bloggers and journalists linking it to a recently publicized spate of gay teen suicides.
Raymond Chase, a 19-year-old sophomore at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, was found dead in his dorm room last Wednesday, reportedly by hanging himself.
Coming on the heels of four other gay teen suicides – including Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who jumped from the George Washington Bridge a week before Chase’s passing – a variety of writers have pointed to Chase’s death as one more heartwrenching example of gay teens taking their lives because of the tensions between their sexual orientation and society at large.
Whether the culinary arts major’s suicide, however, is truly connected to the other high-profile deaths is a matter of debate, as he was open about his homosexuality, and reports do not indicate he suffered the same kind of harassment levelled at the others.
Regardless, the Johnson and Wales campus was in mourning throughout the last week and is planning a memorial service for Chase after his family holds one this week.
“The university has expressed our deepest condolences to Ray’s family and is assisting them through this difficult time,” said University Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Ronald Martel. “We have been offering grief counseling to our student community and, through our Human Resources office, for our faculty and staff who are trying to cope with this loss.”
Chase’s family resides in Monticello but could not be reached at press time.
Monticello Schools Supt. Pat Michel said he did not know Chase personally but had been told by the guidance department that he was one of the district’s fondly-recalled 2009 graduates.
“They thought he was an outstanding young man,” said Michel of the guidance counselors.
Monticello Central School District honored Chase with a moment of silence during the school's homecoming football game this past weekend.

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