The rates of suicide in Australia’s rainbow community are devastatingly high; six times higher than for straight people. Large scale studies have suggested that gay males are almost 14 times more likely than their straight mates to report having attempted suicide, and almost one in three trans people report having attempted suicide. And so, especially in light of the recent “R U OK?” day, and the very public discourse on the topic of suicide following Robin Williams’ death, I thought it was timely to share with you a psychologist’s thoughts on suicide.
Ask a lesbian, gay, trans, bi, queer or intersex Australian adult at any given time whether they are currently struggling with thoughts of suicide, and you may be shocked to find more than one in six will say yes.
Prior to working in private practice, I worked for ten years on a crisis hotline. I don’t know how many people I’ve talked down from the proverbial ledge, but I know that not a single person was helped through arguing with their feelings. People who are brave enough to tell you that they are suicidal are usually facing overwhelmingly heavy thoughts and feelings, and to try to ‘cheer them up’ with a positive spin or different perspective usually only heaps invalidation on top of pain.
On the other hand, it’s been my experience countless times that after sitting with a person’s suffering unflinchingly and with no agenda, afterwards they are more willing to consider alternative solutions to end their pain.
Working intimately with suicide has also taught me about the resilience of the human spirit. It always saddens me to hear people describe suicide as selfish; given how hard-wired we are for survival, it usually takes a great deal of suffering to override the primal need to take in oxygen at just about all costs. So, if someone you know is suicidal, try asking them what has helped them stay alive this long. The source of their resilience may surprise you, as it often does me. It could be as simple as a smile from a stranger, or as grand as a sense of responsibility to others.
In short, let’s put the ‘community’ in ‘LGBTQI community’ when it comes to suicide.
With so many of our rainbow family enduring a bombardment of suicidal thoughts at any given time, don’t be afraid to hear another’s pain without moving to fix it, or believe in a person’s strength even when they’ve lost sight of it. And finally, seek the counsel of a professional if you are concerned – after all, we’re here to help.
If you or someone you know is in need of immediate assistance, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you want to talk to someone call QLife LGBTI counselling on 1800 184 527. QLife has web chat online at qlife.org.au. Phones & web chat operate 5.30pm to 10.30pm, 7 days a week.
View Source Gay News Network »»» WRITTEN BY // Jacques Rizk – WEDNESDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2014