“Hey! Could you throw some LGBT suicide stats to show my rude parents? Thanks!”
- Question submitted by Anonymous
Okay listen up. Since I am pretty sure you knew how to google “LGBT Suicide Stats,” I HAVE A FEELING THAT MAYBE JUST MAYBE… you were (are) really angry about the way your parents are treating you and you are on a quest to slap in the face via Tumblr posts, statistics, and anything else you can get your hands on. So, let’s break this down into three parts, shall we?
PART ONE: Your Parents Shouldn’t Disrespect You
I am so fucking sorry that your parents are making you feel shitty. The world at large can be a place that looks us in the eyeballs and says “you aren’t worth it, you don’t make sense, you don’t belong, fuck off”… and for even a shred of that message to be coming from the people who are supposed to love you most, is totally, one hundred billion percent FUCKED. I need to tell you that those messages of disrespect are complete and total bullshit, and are fabricated on some weird-ass structure that was built by a bunch of white dudes who assumed they were better than black dudes and brown dudes and all women and anything else that didn’t walk, talk, and act like they did across history. Apologies to the super awesome, really nice white dudes who are attempting to help fix that shit, but it’s true. All that to say: YOU ARE FUCKING WORTH IT. YOU MAKE SO MUCH FUCKING SENSE. YOU BELONG SO HARD. *huge hug*
PART TWO: Suicide Is Real & Affects LGBT People
You asked for stats, I shall give you a few stats: Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24; LGB youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers; Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt; Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average. I pulled these stats from The Trevor Project’s website, and you can see the sources here. If you are struggling and need someone to talk to, please, please call or chat with someone who can help:
PART THREE: Scaring Your Parents Isn’t The Only Way To Talk To Them
Listen. Parts 1&2 are important, but I need to ask you to stop for a moment and think about your parents, what they know and what they don’t, and why they might be saying shit that hurts your heart. Maybe they are people who will only respond to fear… but I think that in most cases, people respond to compassion, empathy, and help more than being told terrifying facts at the outset and left with zero resources.
There is a good chance that your parents need your help. You can absolutely talk to them about the above statistics, but you should do it in a larger context where you are giving them tools to learn how to support you. If you are feeling suicidal, you should talk to them about those feelings, and you should tell them that you need their help. If you are feeling incredibly hurt, you should talk to them about those feelings, and tell them that you need their help.
Show them The Parents Project, see if there is a PFLAG Chapter near you, urge them to buy a copy of This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids. Dannielle and I created (and continue to create) these resources because we have seen parents do an about face when they suddenly have an outlet for all that they are going through. Your coming out process is also your parents coming out process.
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"I’ve been thinking about suicide a lot lately. I finally started telling people I need help but it feels like no one is listening to me. It’s like they don’t take me seriously. My depression destroyed my college career, my job is about to fire me, I’m losing friends, everything is a mess. I feel so far in over my head. How can I make things better?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Allyee Whaley of The Trevor Project as part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions.
I really appreciate your strength to share your story openly and whole heartedly. Feeling depressed and suicidal is very difficult, but when you also feel completely alone, life can sometimes feel like it is too much to bear. So many young people struggle with similar situations and by you being brave enough to speak up, it can help others know they too are not alone.
All of the things you described are common consequences of those who struggle with depression. When one is depressed, it can be very painful to feel, can make you isolate from your friends and family, cause one to be tired all the time and take away one’s motivation to do things, not enjoy the things they usually like to do, sleep and eat much less or more than usual, and make one see everything in their life in a negative way. Sometimes the depression can get so bad it can make a person think of ending their life. Sometimes people think about ending their life when they feel very depressed, feel like things will never get better and helpless to make things better in their life. You can learn more about depression here.
Please know that if you were no longer here, the world would be a much, much emptier place. If you ever have thoughts of killing yourself, it’s very important for your safety that you immediately tell someone you trust about your thoughts of suicide. If you ever feel you’re going to act on those thoughts, immediately call 911 or get to your nearest hospital emergency room. If there’s no one you feel comfortable talking with or would like more support, you can always call the Trevor lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, 24 hours 7 days a week. Our caring, understanding and supportive counselors are here to talk with you about everything you’re feeling and going through and want to do whatever is needed to keep you safe.
I know that so far you haven’t gotten the results you’ve wanted by reaching out for help and that is really unfair. Finding someone supportive you can talk to is really important for everyone and I think your instincts to reach out when you need help will serve you well, once you find that person you can lean on. That person can be a therapist, friend, family member, Trevor Project Counselor, or anyone you can trust. When we have direct conversations with people about what’s happening in our life, we want to be met with someone who just listens. We want someone who doesn’t try to immediately solve our problems, but someone who can just sit with us in that pain and tell us “hey, that really sucks!” Sometimes our friends or family don’t know what to say, or might even be scared when we reach out to them for help. It is important to remember that other people’s responses to your feelings aren’t a reflection of you! Your problems are worthy of empathy, validation and respect.
While there is no magical answer on how to make things better, I can tell you, depression is a treatable condition, and it is possible to build a wonderful life for yourself. When it feels like everything is falling apart, trying to take steps to feel better can be one of the most daunting tasks. It isn’t going to be easy. The struggle is REAL, especially for those who struggle with depression. A number of things can be helpful, but it really just depends on what appeals to you, or what kinds of things you like doing. Some things you can ask yourself are: What things have you enjoyed doing in the past? What makes you feel good? For example, Do you like to draw, write, sing or dance? Does a bubble bath help you relax? You might not be the bubble bath type, but more of the “let me put on super loud punk music,” type. Whatever works for you and makes YOU feel good, as long as you aren’t harming yourself or others, is enough! It can be really hard to find the motivation to take care of ourselves especially when we get really depressed. You’d be amazed what a big difference it can make to add in a little bit of self-care in your life. And you don’t have to do it all at once. Allow yourself the space to make mistakes, to try new behaviors and see how they feel. We all have to continue to grow and adjust the way we cope throughout our lives, and that’s perfectly okay! Maya Angelou, once said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Part of this struggle you are experiencing right now might be helping you grow into this wonderful butterfly that is totally and uniquely YOU!
What I can see, is that you are a strong, brave person who is able to stand up, share your story and ask for help. You’ve already made a strong first step by reaching out for support! You don’t have to go through any of this alone.
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“I really need help! I want to break up with my boyfriend, but in past attempts to do so, he said he would commit suicide, and I don’t want to be responsible for someone ending their life. I do still care about him, so it makes me really sad. Please, please help me!”
- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Dr. Kelly Wester, PhD as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions
Dr. Wester Says:
**TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide is discussed in the below post**
Let’s first acknowledge that this statement by your boyfriend, or any partner or friend for that matter, puts you in what feels like a helpless bind. Before moving into what you can do, we need to acknowledge that there are a lot of reasons why an individual might threaten suicide, including past experiences of trauma, current stressful situations that feel overwhelming and hopeless, a sense of feeling like a burden, being alienated from others, feelings of loss, and feeling out of control. With all of these going on, no one person (partner included) will be able to fix or save that individual on their own. A suicidal individual needs professional help, and sometimes from more than one professional. This can include mental health counselors, psychiatrists, medical doctors, and more.
Getting back to the situation at hand, ultimately his threats of suicide when you attempt to break up are a way to manipulate you and gain control. And it seems like it has worked for him, as you have tried multiple times to breakup yet find yourself still in the relationship.
In this situation he has, on the surface, put the responsibility of his life into your hands (based on your decision to end the relationships or not) – or so it seems. However, ultimately he has responsibility for his own life. Keep in mind that he is the only person who is responsible for his behaviors, choices, and decisions – theonly person. He chooses how he reacts, what he says, and what he does. So you are not responsible. You can however, make the situation better or worse based on your choices and behaviors.
This acknowledgment of responsibility, though, might not make it feel better to have this threat hanging over your head. So what you need to do is not waver in your decision. Simply have the conversation with him and be direct. Say something like “I need to talk” and then, “I no longer want to be in this relationship.” Stick to this decision (if it is what you want to do) regardless of his statements. Wavering back and forth and breaking up and getting back together based on threats is not fair to either of you.
If he threatens suicide when you have this conversation, express concern. Indicate that you care about him as a person, as a friend, and as a human being. State that breaking up with him doesn’t mean you don’t care about him, but rather that the relationship is changing. Indicate that his threat is not fair and that it holds you hostage, and ask him if he really wants to be in a relationship that exists solely due to the manipulation or sense of hostage from your fear of his death.
What you should not do in this situation is argue about whether he will commit suicide or not, or make challenging statements such as “I don’t believe you” or even “I don’t care” out of frustration. This can lead someone to assume that challenge and engage in the behavior or attempt suicide just to prove that they would.
Once you leave that conversation (or while you are still in it, for that matter), if you feel uncomfortable or have a strong fear that he will actually engage in suicidal behaviors, call 911 and provide them with that information and the address of his location. It is not your job to deal with the suicidal behavior or help him through that emotional place–let a professional handle that. As a friend, your job is to listen and show concern and care, but not to treat the suicidal behavior or to handle it on your own.
If you have questions, or if you want to refer him to a place to talk, feel free to call a hotline such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) or find one in your local state http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html. Remember–the threats about suicide, although they seem like it, are ultimately not about you – they are about something he is going through and internally battling.
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Everyone Is Gay has started a new project to help parents who have LGBTQ kids: Check out The Parents Project!