This article was published on December 8th, 2016
Suicide is a serious topic in gay culture. A recent study has shown gay youths are 14 times more likely than their heterosexual peers to commit suicide and 33% of gay youths have attempted suicide, compared to just 3% of heterosexual. While it’s difficult to find accurate statistics pertaining to gay suicide rates, it is widely agreed that there is a serious issue in the gay community with suicide.
So why do people do it?
Coming out takes an extraordinary amount of bravery and strength. Coming to terms with yourself and your sexuality takes a support network and a level of community support that not enough people don’t have access to. Realising you are different and outside the parameters of what society sets as normal can be frightening, overwhelming and difficult to accept; especially if you are in an environment that is hostile towards homosexuality.
Repressing a part of yourself is unbelievably damaging to your mental health, it can cause problems like anxiety and depression which in turn, can lead to suicidal thoughts or, ultimately, actions. It’s time we tackle the issue head on, as we have done so often and as we do so well in the gay community, and take serious steps to trying to find and help the people at risk of this kind of action.
The biggest step any of us can take is in identifying and taking it seriously when anyone talks to us about having suicidal thoughts. It can be an incredibly difficult conversation to have but it is so important to try to open up these conversations. If you suspect someone is at risk of these feelings, trying to start a conversation with them can help them to let out pent up feelings and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Just asking questions about how they’ve been feeling, telling them you’ve noticed something a little off or if they want to talk can spark a conversation that can go a long way to starting the healing process.
Try to keep an open mind when engaging in one of these conversations, listen, be sympathetic, tell them there is hope and take seriously everything they are saying. Absolutely do not argue with them or belittle the way they are feeling, don’t act shocked or try to dismiss their feelings. Never try to fix their problems because that’s up to them, all you can do is support them.
Have you been having suicidal thoughts or feelings and have no one to talk to about it? Here are some valuable resources where you can get help right now:
You are beautiful, you are worth fighting for and you are welcome into the gay community with open arms. You will find a family with us.