Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S., and for children and young adults, it's oftentimes brought on by bullying.
Youth suicides brought on by bullying have been on the rise, and those struggling with issues related to gender or sexual orientation are at an even greater risk of falling victim to harsh bullying.
Billy's story is one of many, one all too commonly heard today, and it's one a local UNK organization is hoping to hear less often.
Monday, the public was invited to a presentation at UNK on bullying and suicide risks among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youths.
"UNK has a queer straight alliance here on campus, so members in the community along with the QSA bring in events and speakers so that they can learn more about gay culture and experience of all within our community," said Matthew Mims, assistant professor at UNK.
QSA, as the group is called, is made up of 50 students, staff and faculty at UNK, and has been gaining momentum since 2008, when the organization was founded.
"Our group is made up of a lot of different students, but one of the things we don't have them identity is sexual orientation cause that's quite a small portion of who they are, so rather just focusing on that we allow them to do that on their own personal basis," explained Mims.
Monday's guest speaker, Ronald Holt, is a clinical psychiatrist and an open member of the gay community.
The presentation included a discussion of bullying and suicide as well as the roles of biology in gay sexuality and a breakdown of stigmas.
"I think it's really important to be a role model for those who many not have a role model or who are struggling with their sexuality to see that there are people that are very positive and are good role models and are doing well and successful being an openly gay person," Holt shared.
And though in Holt has seen a vast improvement of acceptance and understanding in the 14 years he's been speaking, the Nebraska native says he still feels there's room for improvement.
"Still in rural communities and in the South there aren't a lot of positive role models. But there's still been a vast improvement in the past few years," he shared.