Suicide Awareness in the LGBTQIA+ Community
"Trigger warning: this post involves frank discussion of suicide and a suicide attempt."
More suicide awareness in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, etc. (LGBTQIA+) community might have helped me as a young person. I am one of the ones who attempted suicide. I can still remember the way the pills tasted in my mouth. They had a chalky consistency and tart taste that was quite unpleasant. The bottle rests in my hand when the paramedics arrive. As I lay on the floor, dipping in and out of consciousness, I remember feeling warm all over. My body was wrapped in the uncomfortable blanket of an overdose. This was my first attempt at suicide.
Suicide Awareness in our LGBTQIA+ Community
September 10th is World Suicide Prevention day. No better time to shine a light on the high rates of suicide completion and suicide attempts that are present here in our LGBTQIA+ community. LGBT youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide and three times more likely to contemplate suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.1
My struggle with suicide began when I came out to my family. My grandmother was a lifelong Christian who refused to accept my sexual orientation. She was also someone who I looked up to and the woman who raised me. I felt I couldn't live my truth and make my family proud. This led to my first attempt on my life.
I am lucky enough to not have completed my attempt but, this is not the case for everyone. LGBTQIA+ individuals struggle every day with telling those they love and admire that they are different than what society deems average. If not accepted or respected when doing so this can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.
Suicide Awareness for LGBTQ+: Learn These 4 Coping Skills
What I lacked before my coming out was a compassionate support system and a sense of community. I had no individuals in my life discussing coping skills with me. What a difference it could have made if someone could have helped guide me through these newfound emotions, giving me skills to practice coping. I hope to leave you with just a few of those today.
Set Up A Buddy System
When feelings of hopelessness and despair begin to creep in, tell someone. Tell a close friend, a family member, an online buddy, etc. Let these individuals know how you are feeling. Speaking up can lead to someone checking in on you and noticing behavior changes.
I had a mentor when I was younger who always knew when I left my home in the morning, when I came home and what my daily schedule looked like. She was able to notice pattern changes and help support me when these became intrusive in my life.
Keep A Daily Journal
Write about your moods and feelings. Even if a daily event seems inconsequential, write about it. This can help track moods and emotions, possibly signaling when things are spiraling downward.
I have kept a journal my entire life. I use my journal to help recognize when depression is becoming intrusive in my life. Journaling also provides a space for me to process and work through any negative thoughts or feelings.
Reach out to your LGBTQIA+ Community
No matter what makes individuals more comfortable, there is a tribe out there for you. Contacting local pride organizations can offer many resources such as online support groups and in-person meetings and activities.
Growing up in a small town, pride organizations were not readily available to me. I reached out to my school counselor at the time who gave me resources and support groups to attend. These support groups were centered around depression and allowed me a safe space to share with like minded individuals.
Back Off Social Media
This one can be hard. For many, the morning routine begins by grasping for our phones and accessing our various social media accounts. Social media isn't a negative outlet but, it can lead to some negative thinking. As the scrolling begins, people can start comparing their lives with others, see old memories best forgotten or glance at the ex with a new beau. When in a delicate mindset, these types of triggers can be detrimental to our mental health. Consider cutting down on screen time.
I hope these coping skills can offer relief as they have for myself.
How has suicide awareness (or lack thereof) in the LGBTQIA+ community affected you? Share your stories about your suicidal thoughts/actions and coping skills in the comments below. A skill you have mastered may be new to someone else.
You are not alone.
If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.
For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.
1. Kann, Laura, Olsen, O'Malley Emily, McManus, Tim et al, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/ss/pdfs/ss6509) Center for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, August 12th, 2016.
2. Tracy, Natasha, Suicide Hotline Phone Numbers (https://www.healthyplace.com/suicide/suicide-hotline-phone-numbers). HealthyPlace, April 29th, 2019.
Nolasco, M. (2020, September 2). Suicide Awareness in the LGBTQIA+ Community, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/thelifelgbt/2020/9/suicide-awareness-in-the-lgbtqia-community