Lately there has been a lot of talk about suicide.
Most recently, an 11 year old boy, Carl Walker-Hoover, killed himself by hanging with an extension cord after being bullied at school with anti-gay slurs, even though he was not gay. Eric Mohat, 17, was harassed so badly in high school that when one bully said to him in class, “Why don’t you go home and shoot yourself, no one will miss you,” that’s exactly what he did.
As a journalist for our news section here on LezGetReal, I am always scouring our sources for stories our readers should know about.
Many times it’s early in the morning, and this activity can set the pace for the rest of the day. I’ve noticed that many of the stories that readers respond to the most are the ones that are shocking or sad. Good news is usually not considered newsworthy. That’s not the case here on our site and of course not every news source is that way, but for the most part I am noticing that every morning for the past two weeks there has been some type of news tip in my inbox about a recent suicide.
Now in my personal life, I have known suicide, since my uncle killed himself by hanging when I was a young child.
The way he did it has played on my mind for years. He hung himself in a tree in the front yard on Halloween. I remember walking by the tree that night while trick or treating with my mom and sister and seeing the fake dummy man hanging in the tree. The next time I went to my grandparents house the tree had been cut down.
That has been something that has stuck with me my whole life, and now as a lesbian blogger and activist I am facing the issue of suicide almost daily.
Recently, an 8 year old girl committed suicide here in California, for no apparent reason. She hung herself with a belt from her bunk bed. As things like this happen, I become more saddened at the presence of suicide in our society. Other members in my circle have committed suicide, and some have threatened it as well.
Suicide statistics show:
-A person dies by suicide about every 16 minutes in the United States. An attempt is estimated to be made once every minute.
-Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among those 5-14 years old.
-Suicide is the third leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old.
The suicide rates for men rise with age, most significantly after age 65.
-The suicide rates for women peak between the ages of 45-54 years old, and again after age 75.
-Over 60 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression.
-About 15 percent of the population will suffer from clinical depression at some time during their lifetime. Thirty percent of all clinically depressed patients attempt suicide; half of them ultimately die by suicide.
Last week, a friend of mine working on a documentary on LGBT hate crimes in Brazil shared a particularly saddening letter written by a girl in Brazil, who hung herself from a tree a few weeks ago. She had been sexually assaulted by some boys from her town, saving her friend from the same fate. Since the boys were related to connected people, nothing had been done.
Here are some excerpts of that letter…
My father took me home. He stopped the car in front of our house to talk with me. “I knew this was gonna happen with the way you are”.If we truly want to do something about suicide we have to take a stand against it – we can’t let it become the norm!
I never saw my father cry. Before he got out of the car he said, “it would have been better if you died”.
In my bedroom I looked in the mirror to see my body after
everything. Like a Frankenstein monster.
My shoulder looked like a quilt my mother made.
Leftover pieces of me sewn together to try making me whole again.
…I’m not very sure about what to do. My mother says I should pretend all of this didn’t happen to me and maybe I can go out with a boy from our church now.
I was very mad… I am very mad because she knows the boys who did this to me. They are from our church!
I hate to be such a terrible problem for everyone.
Maybe it’s better if I am dead. I’m scared now.
I don’t think I’m strong enough for this life.
I know what it is to be depressed, and feel despair. I have had a tough life having been abused as a child, abused as a woman, and with a life full of hard knocks. There have been times that I have been down and out, but luckily I feel that I have things to live for.
Yet I imagine what it must be like to be in a different city, county, or country.
What would it be like if I didn’t have a family? What would it be like if I didn’t have money, or a career, or friends? What if I didn’t have anything to live for other than life itself? That might take me a little closer to the edge I imagine. But for me, I have never really been that close and I guess I could never really know how it is for someone who is in so much despair that they would take their own life.
What I do know is that suicide is completely preventable.
Being there and giving someone something to look forward to is a big help that can’t really be measured but can make a huge difference. We don’t see news stories when someone has decided against taking their own life, but it happens every day.
Also, everyone really needs to watch what they say to other people.
Words really can hurt people, and they can help too. Something my wife taught me that helps “When you talk to someone, you never know, you might have been the only person to talk to them that day.”
It’s very true. Let’s all keep that in mind.
From The Trevor Project:
How You Can Help a Suicidal Person:If you are battling with suicidal thoughts there is hope for you.
Listen. Suicidal people frequently feel no one understands them, that they are not taken seriously, and that no one listens to them.
Accept the person’s feelings as they are. Do not try to cheer the person up by making, positive, unrealistic statements. Do not joke about the situation.
Do not be afraid to talk about suicide directly. You will not be putting ideas into the person’s head. It may, in fact, be dangerous to avoid asking a person directly if s/he is feeling suicidal.
Ask them if they have developed a plan for suicide. The presence of a well-developed plan indicates more serious intent.
Remove anything dangerous from the person’s home that might be used in a suicide attempt (e.g., gun, knife, razor blades, sleeping pills).
Tell a trusted adult. Do not keep it a secret. If someone you know is considering suicide, an adult is the best person to handle the situation and offer that person help. Make No Deals to keep secret what a suicidal person has told you.
Express your concern for the person and your hope that the person will not choose suicide but instead will stick it out a little longer.
Remind the person that depressed feelings do change over time.
Point out that when death is chosen, it is final–it cannot be changed.
Develop a plan for help with the person.
If you cannot develop a plan and a suicide attempt is imminent, seek outside emergency help from a hospital, mental health clinic or call “911.”
There is always hope to make things better, hope for a brighter day, as long as you don’t give up. Reach out to someone, tell someone you need help, don’t be afraid to make a change for the better.
In an emergency, call 1-866-4-U-TREVOR, 1-866-488-7386.
Together we can turn these headlines around, and start each day with positive news… can you imagine?? I sure can!
In the meantime, let’s keep our heads up and do what we can each day to make a change.
About the Author: Julie Phineas is a work at home mom of 2 who lives in Southern California. You can find out more about her online by visiting her website at www.juliephineas.com.