This September is National Suicide Prevention Month, a time when we should all learn steps we can take to prevent the tragedy of suicide and take action to reduce risk for all people. During this month of awareness, I urge the LGBT community to take a stand and lead the fight to end suicide.
Do you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death among all youth, from as young as age 10 through age 24, and that LGBT youth attempt suicide at greater rates than straight youth? The worst part about these tragic statistics is that suicide can be prevented.
Research shows that our own cultural barriers are among the biggest challenges to preventing suicide. For too many people, asking for help is out of the question, and even if we want help, we might not know where to find it. Making it easier to ask for help and to find it can make a dramatic difference for a person in crisis. This is the foundation for the Trevor Project's National Suicide Prevention Month campaign, "Talk to Me."
Saying "talk to me" to a friend can spark conversations that encourage positive help-seeking behaviors by letting a friend know that you care about them and are willing to listen without judgment. Once a conversation is started, that bond of trust presents an opportunity to connect a friend in crisis to life-affirming resources. In short, with just three simple words, "talk to me," each one of us can potentially help save a life.
"Talk to me" is a universal message that applies to people of all ages and backgrounds, including parents, students, faith leaders, childcare providers, teachers, co-workers, and family members. It is crucial that we come together and let those in crisis know that they are not alone. During National Suicide Prevention Month, vow to be someone who is ready to listen without judgment and connect a friend or family member with supportive resources if they are ever in crisis.
We can also take action to improve our laws and protections for youth. All states have some kind of suicide prevention plan, which can include mandatory suicide prevention training for school staff. Unfortunately, not all states appropriately fund these vital programs, and when the money isn't there, the potential for a well-trained school staff disappears. You can be a leading force for change by asking your state lawmakers to advocate for funding for inclusive, school-based suicide prevention training and programs. Start a writing campaign and encourage your state legislators to stand up for the well-being of the students in your state.
National Suicide Prevention Month is about creating a world where the tragedy of suicide no longer exists. It can be as easy as saying three simple words, "talk to me," which allows for a potentially life-saving conversation, or by taking action in your community to ensure that inclusive suicide prevention training programs have the funding they need. We all have the ability to help save a life. Let someone you care about know that they can talk to you today.
Join the Trevor Project's campaign for conversation at TrevorTalkToMe.org.