This week is Suicide prevention week, a chance to be informed of how to prevent a friend or loved one from taking their life. Advice that, sadly, is much needed in the LGBTQ community.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four LGBTQ teens tries to take their own life, and far too many succeed.
One in four! With most recent tragic victim 9-year-old Colorado boy Jamel Myles fresh on our minds these figures now have a face, and we need to think of ways to stop adding to this count.
Over the last few months more terrifying statistics have been released: According to the Metropolitan Police, the number of homophobic hate crimes being committed in London has doubled over the last five years. But not just there, searching through online reports homophobia is on the rise around the world (in every walk of life) and so is the bullying of queer youth – apparently even by teachers in several cases.
The first thing that needs to be done is more attention to bullying prevention, as this is where it starts. These are dangerous times to be young and “different”. With bullying seemingly legitimised by the internet, media and politics adults feel they have the right to point, judge and hurt; whether through social media or verbally. This behaviour rubs off on young children and teens, leading them to judge others the same way.
“It is horrifying to know that bullying has become even more vicious and unrelenting since the 1990s, especially since the “invention” of online bullying. It is a horrific idea that these days the harassment just continues at home, in what should be the safety of your bedroom”
Bullying has always been around amongst children, of course. I too was a victim; different, mixed raced and shy I was an easy target. It too drove me to try and take my life, my mother saved me, and for that, I’ll always be grateful. This was in the 1990s, and it is horrifying to know that bullying has become even more vicious and unrelenting since then, especially since the “invention” of online bullying. It is a horrific idea that these days the harassment just continues at home, in what should be the safety of your bedroom.
What is needed is more help and support for young LGBTQ teens: an appointed counsellor (preferably LGBTQ themselves) in every school would be a step in the right direction. Children and teenagers talk easier if they feel the person is “like” them or “gets” them. Educating teachers about bullying and other problems LGBTQ teens face is important too.
More bullying prevention and a zero tolerance against bullying and discrimination are also very important. Far too often the bully gets validated in his or her behaviour with alarming future consequences.
Bullying leaves lifelong scars that can be damaging. It can cause a crippling lack of confidence, PTSD, internalised homophobia and lots of other mental health issues. Protecting LGBTQ and other bullied children now is protecting their future. Protecting LGBTQ and other bullied children GIVES them a future!
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