"Suicide attempts are higher for trans youth because they face high rates of discrimination, rejection, fear and hatred than other youth. These youth are trying to understand and build their identities in a world that tells them they are wrong for who they are."
-David W. Bond, a clinical social worker who is vice president of programs for the suicide-prevention group The Trevor Project.
"Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There's no winning. There's no way out. I'm sad enough already, I don't need my life to get any worse."
-(Leelah) Josh Alcorn, in her suicide note.
These quotes poignantly sum up what lead Leelah, and sadly many others, to end their lives before their time.
It’s easy for others to think such things are not as bad as they seem... that things change over time… but as someone who crawled out of crippling depression, I can tell you, for those suffering from depression the feelings are real and seem insurmountable regardless of what others may see.
Depression is a great equalizer. It doesn’t matter what gender association you hold, or what your sexuality is. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, or how talented or good looking you may be. When it takes hold, you fall into the same pit of despair.
But depression lies to you. It is not your friend. It refuses to let you see hope – and that is where the problem lies.
Every situation is different, and sometimes our options really are more limited than others, but things are rarely as bleak as our depression leads us to believe. I wish I could say it won’t be difficult or slow going, but you can get through this if you can find the strength to go on.
It’s ok to ask for help, but remember, not everyone is equipped to offer you the support you need, no matter how well intentioned they are. Friends and family often just don’t know how to handle your feelings, and may say things that upset you. Sometimes you need to seek out the proper help – and there are many freely available resources out there.
Consider some of the resources below. If none of them support your area, a simple search on the internet is likely to offer you some suggestions.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or just ask to talk. It’s not a sign of weakness – it’s a step toward freedom. It’s a way to do something about your pain when it seems like there is nothing you can do. You always have options – but your depression won’t let you see them.
Please at least try it. Show yourself the compassion you need and take the first step out from under that dark cloud. You are not alone, you really aren’t.
This tragedy is not an isolated case. The list continues to grow, with notable recent (as of a year of Leelah's passing) examples of Taylor Alesana, Zander Mahaffey, and Blake Brockington. What makes such losses all the more wasteful is the fact that they all take their lives hoping to be heard and make a difference. While they may make a short blip on the media radar, it is short lived, as the media (and sadly many vocal advocates) are on to the next big thing.
Suicide is like a shout in a crowd. It may turn heads for a moment, but then the message is over and the voice is gone - forever. You reach more people long term by continuing to speak out - to reach out. There are others who feel as you do, who need the support of knowing they are not alone. Sometimes the message they get from these suicides is the message that they only way they can make a difference is to follow that lead. But there is a better message. One of hope, from those who pushed forward and survived the struggle. It may seem hopeless, especially when young, but there are success stories as well, and that is a legacy to be proud of.
Trans Lifeline is a non-profit dedicated to the well being of transgender people. We run a hotline staffed by transgender people for transgender people. Trans Lifeline volunteers are ready to respond to whatever support needs members of our community might have.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. Our trained counselors are here to support you 24/7. If you are a young person who is in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call The Trevor Lifeline now at 866-488-7386.
They have a list of numbers by location, for both the United States, and other countries, as well as articles and support groups/forums.
No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.
If something's troubling you, then get in touch. We're here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. (They are not a religious organization.)