[ Feature image via San Diego Gay and Lesbian News ]
Suicide prevention is a topic that is very close to my heart, not only because of the recent epidemic of LGBT teen suicides, but also because I lost a high school friend to suicide in my freshman year of college. It still haunts me today. Death is always sad, especially in youth, but when it's a suicide, you can't help but stress out over what you could have done to stop it. I had no idea she was any worse off than any of the other over-stressed kids who attended my high-pressure magnet high school, but after she died it was easy to look back and see that she took it worse than others. I don't know why I didn't see the signs when she was alive, and wish I could go back in time and talk to her more. I know it's wrong for survivors to blame ourselves, but who can help it when a tragedy is preventable?
As suicide is the third leading cause of death in Americans ages 15-24, it is pretty important for young people to learn about suicide prevention. And this week, Sept. 4-10, is National Suicide Prevention Week, so there's no better time to be talking about it than right now. That's why The Trevor Project is launching a new campaign -- "Talk to Me" -- aimed at the friends and families of depressed LGBT teens. Check out the project's video featuring Kevin McHale (Artie from Glee):
Even if you don't know anyone who is suicidal, it's important to be supportive of friends and family members who need to talk. Be supportive and don't judge, the website recommends. Speaking as someone who has battled depression, one big thing that kept me from ever considering suicide or self-harm was that I knew I had people in my life who cared about me and who would be devastated if I hurt myself. Also, if you present yourself as a trusted, non-judgmental listener, you're more likely to hear about it if your friends are considering suicide. And then you can do something about it.
Here is another video with advice for what to do to help people in crisis:
One important thing the video stresses is to make sure to take every suicide threat seriously. Even if s/he doesn't have a specific plan, even if you're pretty sure it's just an off-hand comment, you should still do something about it. Earlier this summer, my little sister woke me up in a panic because one of her friends was talking about killing herself after a bad break-up. My sister wasn't sure if it was a real threat; regardless, she and her other friends got the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on the phone. It turned out the friend was serious and she was able to get help. So you never know.
The Trevor Project's hotline is 866-488-7386.
They also have a chat service at http://www.thetrevorproject.org/chat
Other Suicide Hotlines:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US): 1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-799-4889 (for the hearing-impaired)
National Hopeline Network (US): 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-784-2433
Canada Suicide and Crisis Hotline: 800-448-3000 or 800-448-1833 (hearing-impaired)
Samaritans (UK and Ireland): 08457 90 90 90 (UK) and 1850 60 90 90 (Ireland)
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Lifeline New Zealand: 0800 543 354
TelefonSeelsorge (Germany): 0800 1110 111 and 0800 1110 222