The LGBTQ Community and Suicide
Thinking back on the incredible tragedy that occurred just a week ago in Florida, we remember that hate crimes like this have affected the LGBTQ community for decades and will continue unless we open our hearts. The story of the man that committed this crime has brought to light some things about suicide rates of the queer community that don’t have the support they need to feel part of and accepted.
Teens are at high risk for suicide, up to 30% of LGBTQ youth commit suicide as reported by the US Department of Health and Human Services. It comes down to a combination of responsibilities we have to our LGBTQ friends, family and fellow humans: awareness, community support, and vital mental health services.
A few things happen when tragedy strikes, the first is that eyes are opened. The second is that once we are aware, we can’t help but see the problems we contribute to every single day. Privilege is a real thing, and it’s important that we understand privileges that straight couples hold, being able to show affection to your loved one without comment. How many of us can say that we’ve never thought about that? Not only are those in the LGBTQ community afraid to show their love freely, but may not feel able to express themselves as queer because of these obstacles.
When we are forced to live in fear and can’t express who we are, feeling isolated and disposable is what’s left. Depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide are a terrible side effect of these feelings. Our society unfortunately breeds fear and makes people feel unsafe to express themselves as they are. It’s up to us to create a safe and comforting environment to help those in the LGBTQ community feel supported and loved.
Queer people need the support of the community now, more than ever before. We must say no to hate, and that enough is enough. At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, Alumni Coordinator Roxie says, “We treat so many kids from the community with love and respect AND even have kids come out in treatment because of how safe they feel.” Suicide rates are high, but we continually need to reach out and pull someone back from the edge. Over 25% of those in the LGBTQ community are victimized daily, and this continues without counseling or support; this problem is often ignored.
We see adolescents every day that lack the sincere support of their families and their community to accomplish their goals. When you feel alone, your confidence is low, and things seem that much harder. Coming to terms with and accepting who we are is hard enough without people behaving negatively. We can change this by replacing fear with confidence and love.
Mental Health Needs
This man took the lives of over 50 people because he could not come to terms with who he was and was undoubtedly in need of mental health services; this story is an extreme case that we hope will never happen again in our lifetime, or ever from this point on. About this individual, externalization of guilt and hatred toward the LGBTQ community was bottled and tragically expressed.
If mental health services were offered, this might have been handled within a safe and therapeutic environment to avoid this unhealthy and heinous crime. In the world of mental health and addiction services, you can’t treat one without treating the other; it’s our turn to reach out and step up to the plate to be more and be human.
We mourn Orlando and all of the families that have felt loss at this time and will continually throughout their lives. At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, we offer our alumni, youth, and their families all the support they need and reach out into the community to promote awareness. Call Visions today to talk more about our adolescent addiction and mental health services at (818) 889-3665. Our eyes and hands are open.