It’s been a tough start to the year. Bushfires, upsetting stories about the suffering of our native animals and incessant heat. Then, in the last few days, an attack on a drag storytime event and a very public death by suicide of a troubled young man. We need to remember in difficult times, that asking for help is not a weakness.
Suicide is such an incredibly sad thing. We can never know what is in the heart and mind of a person in the time leading up to their death by suicide. They may seem quite normal, happy even, but their inner turmoil is hidden deep inside. And although suicides can be meticulously planned, they can also be spur-of-the-moment, an impulsive reaction to a deeply upsetting event. Whether planned or not, they represent a depth of despair that only the individual themselves can ever truly understand.
Sadly, death by suicide is more common amongst LGBTQ people than the general population. Obvious reasons can include the stress of feeling different, of feeling judged and of a lack of acceptance from friends and family.
Fear also plays a role — fear of rejection and loneliness, fear of derision or assault when going out, the fear of perhaps never finding true love, and the greatest fear of all, the fear of their own identity. People talk about internalized homophobia, but do they really understand what this is?
Discovering you are different
I don’t think you can without experiencing it yourself. When a young person discovers they are different from others, they sometimes feel the need to hide this from people in their inner circle.
Then, when some of those people eventually find out — hallelujah — they are accepting. However, you crazily feel like you now owe them something for being so good to you. So despite ‘acceptance’, you still feel a need to prove yourself and keep proving yourself again and again to maintain that acceptance.
As a young queer person, resilience is a learned survival skill, not a natural endowment. It helps to have supportive people in your inner circle, but sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes you need more than this.
Reaching out and asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you know you’re in trouble and you need a lift up. It takes time to work through feelings, to even acknowledge them in the first place. Then you need to learn strategies to accept and manage them.
Hearing about someone’s death by suicide is deeply upsetting, and can be a trigger to think about your own feelings. If you need help to work through these, then ask for it. Your self-love is not selfish, it is the care and nourishment of your greatest gift, yourself.
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.