I meant to write this earlier today, but I was busy, and so it’s just past midnight now and no longer Suicide Prevention Day. I am writing it anyway.
It was October 30, 2008, a little less than five years ago, when I held the phone to my ear and listened to a person I loved slowly die.
The night before, this person [who I will not identify, because I don’t have permission, and I’d ask you to show the same respect] and I watched the Phillies win the World Series, and joined the crowd celebrating on Broad Street. Now, they were home alone, and had swallowed a bottle of wine and a bottle of Vicodin.
I was at work. I got a strange text, “TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER,” and a bad feeling. Thank God I made the phone call. I was the one who called the ambulance. Then I rode the train to the hospital, agonizingly slow, not knowing if I would arrive to find my friend or my friend’s corpse.
My friend survived that day, and in not quite five years, has remained very much a part of my life. More importantly, they’ve found real happiness doing things they love, helping people and making the world a better place. There are so many happy memories, so many photos we’ve taken since that day, not quite five years ago, when it might all have ended differently. I still cry occasionally when I think about it. I’m crying now, actually.
I know how hopeless things can seem sometimes. You think people won’t understand, that there is no way out, no way to escape. You’re wrong. I’ve seen how much can change, in a surprisingly short time. Suicide takes away all your opportunities forever.
If you’re feeling down and hopeless, you need to tell someone. You might think people don’t care about you, but odds are they’re just caught up in their own bullshit and don’t realize how hard you’ve got it. I’ve been that friend, the one who didn’t realize how bad things were.
If you’re that friend, and you realize something is up, you need to get talking. Do something. Don’t hope for the best, don’t ignore it and hope it goes away, because you might be the one holding that phone, listening to someone die. You don’t want to be holding that phone. The ambulance doesn’t always make it on time.
Suicide Prevention Day has special meaning for those of us in the LGBT community. Estimates say LGBT teens account for 30% of all suicides, and that LGBT teens are three times more likely to attempt suicide than straight teens. There are resources like the Trevor Project and the It Gets Better Project, but ultimately here’s what it comes down to:
If you yourself are an LGBT teen, or a straight teen for that matter, and you’re in a situation where the people around you are bullying you, or judging you, telling you you’re going to hell, or otherwise making you feel hopeless and alone, let me say this very clearly:
FUCK. THOSE. PEOPLE.
You are beautiful for who you are, and there are millions of people who will tell you that, and who will love and accept you, and not fill your head full of judgmental bullshit lies. If you think suicide is your only option, you’re wrong. Get yourself the hell out of that situation, away from those people, and into a setting where you’ll be welcomed and appreciated. Watch It Gets Better videos, call the Trevor Project, do whatever you have to do.
You have a whole world ahead of you, a whole life away from the drama and the hate and the negativity that’s just ahead of you, and suicide takes all that away.
If you are a parent or a friend of a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender teen OR someone you think might be LGBT, and you care about that person, you need to let them know they are loved and supported. Don’t worry so much about helping them fit in, enforcing social norms, or any of that shit—first and foremost, make sure they have a support system, and that they know someone in their life loves and supports them for who they are. I say again: You don’t want to be the one holding that phone.