CNN reports on The Trevor Project — a hotline for LGBTQ youth who are feeling suicidal. Open 24 hours a day, this hotline fields thousands of calls a year.
Again and again we see that there is nothing inherent in any particular sexual orientation that causes mental health concerns such as suicidality. Youth become fearful, self-loathing, anxious and suicidal in response to the oppression in our culture:
“There’s a high level of stress that youth face in the transition from youth to adulthood,” Charles Robbins, executive director of The Trevor Project, said. “Add on top of that the challenges of sexual orientation or gender identity and we get 15,000 calls a year….”Because of the unfortunate stigma that still exists in the United States around homosexuality … youth tend to hold back their feelings, don’t disclose, live in denial or shame,” Robbins said.”
And again and again we see that simple, accepting human compassion and contact can make all the difference for youth on the edge. As a hotline listener for LGBTQ youth for many years, I have repeatedly experienced the power of that simple connection. Youth who called anxious and depressed about an offhanded homophobic comment at the dinner table, or reading something from a conservative religion condeming homosexuality got off the phone feeling less alone and more hopeful about the possibility of their lives being happy and healthy. I remember one caller begging me to “say that again” after I told him I had no doubt that LGBTQ people can live joyful lives and that I knew it from looking around at the other volunteers in the room with me.
Was there a moment when you realized you were not alone? Your comments are invited.