BY ZOE AMOS
It’s been quiet on the western front here in California, though mostly pleasant. After I fixed the broken water line that sprayed the front of my house all night, I got to work on my taxes. Yep, annoyances included, everything was life as usual for me until I read about the suicide of a north county San Diego transgender youth named Sage.
I learned of Sage’s death on Facebook. The family asked for privacy, which I understand. I hope they felt the outpouring of support and love from our community expressed in the accompanying comments. I couldn’t leave a comment, but my moment of silence is over. Here it is, a mere two months after the well-publicized death of Leelah Alcorn, and I have to wonder if the people who need help are listening.
As much as I wish this was an exception, Sage is not alone. The CDC website reports that around 4,600 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 take their lives each year, and a whopping 157,000 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries. Other sites I visited reported higher figures, but we can never know the true numbers when you consider unreported attempts and those who remain undetected, suffering emotionally without visible wounds as they anguish over whether or not to end their lives — or perhaps more to the point, to end their pain.
The number of suicides among LGBT youth is higher than their straight demographic, approximately four times higher. Estimates by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center state between 30 to 40 percent of LGBT youth consider suicide. That number rises to over 40 percent for transgender youth. LGBT youth are more likely to be depressed, use illegal drugs and engage in risky behavior. As meaningful and tragic as these numbers are, accurate statistics are hard to come by as sexual orientation and gender identity may be hidden.
The accurate statistic I know is the life of a young person is gone and nothing will change that fact. A few weeks ago, I read about another young person elsewhere in the county who also committed suicide. Seeing these articles makes me feel sad for what could have been. To me, they are not just statistics. I did not know them, but I know their lives mattered.
This month marks the 35th anniversary of my sister’s suicide. I can tell you the questions surrounding her death linger to this day. It saddens me to know she was in so much pain that she took her life. To this day, I despair that she could not get to a place where she could have begun to thrive again, to be the happier person I like to remember, and when I see articles about other young people in similar situations, I feel sadness for them and their loved ones. Yes, it’s personal.
Beyond the sadness, there is hope; hope that other young people will listen to others who say “It gets better.” When you take your life, you remove all chances for that better life. You remove the chance to help others in a similar situation.
Help is available. The It Gets Better Project is a way you can help others and is a great resource if you need help. They recommend the Trans Lifeline, a transgender crisis hotline at (877) 565-8860. The Trevor Project specifically addresses LGBT youth concerns at (866)-4-U-TREVOR (866) 488-7386. You can also call the national Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255).
If you or if someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, end your moment of silence and make the call. Lines are open 24/7. You will be directed to people who understand and can help you. Don’t delay. Your life may depend on it.
Zoe Amos brings her lesbian point of view to articles and stories on diverse topics. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Read her stories on Kindle and Nook. Check out her other life at www.janetfwilliams.com