The talk show host says the time for talk is over.
“I am devastated over the death of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi,” the openly gay talk show host says. “He was outed as being gay on the Internet and he killed himself. … One life lost in this senseless way is tragic.”
Noting the three other deaths that have been reported with gay teens this month, DeGeneres says, “Something must be done.”
“This needs to be a wake up call to everyone that teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country, and the death rate is climbing,” she adds. “We have an obligation to change this.”
Prosecutors have not yet determined if, in fact, this case is being considered a hate crime. Two other teens have been arrested for investigation of invasion of privacy. The tape was allegedly intended to be streamed on the Internet.
“The on-going investigation is considering the motives leading to the illegal Internet transmission of a personal encounter involving the victim,” the Middlesex County, N.J., Prosecutor’s Office says in a statement. “We will be making every effort to assess whether bias played a role in the incident, and, if so, we will bring appropriate charges.”
• Additional reporting by NICOLE WEISENSEE EGAN
For more on bullying, see the new issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday, and our special week-long series with Anderson Cooper 360, airing on CNN nightly starting Oct. 4, along with a special PEOPLE-CNN-Cartoon Network Town Hall on Fri. Oct. 8 at 10 p.m.