PFLAG cares about you. If you are considering suicide, read this first
If you are feeling suicidal now, please stop long enough to read this. It will only take about five minutes. PFLAG does not want to talk you out of your bad feelings. I am not a therapist or other mental health professional; only someone who knows what it is like to be in pain.
We here at PFLAG don't know who you are, or why you are reading this page. We only know that for the moment, you're reading it, and that is good. I can assume that you are here because you are troubled and considering ending your life. If it were possible, I would prefer to be there with you at this moment, to sit with you and talk, face to face and heart to heart. But since that is not possible, we will have to make do with this.
I have known a lot of people who have wanted to kill themselves, so I have some small idea of what you might be feeling. I know that you might not be up to reading a long book, so I am going to keep this short. While we are together here for the next five minutes, I have six simple, practical things I would like to share with you. I won't argue with you about whether you should kill yourself. But I assume that if you are thinking about it, you feel pretty bad.
Well, you're still reading, and that's very good. I'd like to ask you to stay with me for the rest of this page. I hope it means that you're at least a tiny bit unsure, somewhere deep inside, about whether or not you really will end your life. Often people feel that, even in the deepest darkness of despair. Being unsure about dying is okay and normal. The fact that you are still alive at this minute means you are still a little bit unsure. It means that even while you want to die, at the same time some part of you still wants to live. So let's hang on to that, and keep going for a few more minutes.
Start by considering this statement:
"Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain."
That's all it's about. You are not a bad person, or crazy, or weak, or flawed, because you feel suicidal. It doesn't even mean that you really want to die, it only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. If I start piling weights on your shoulders, you will eventually collapse if I add enough weights... no matter how much you want to remain standing. (That's why it's useless for someone to tell you to "cheer up!" Of course you would, if you could.)
Don't accept it if someone tells you, "that's not enough to be suicidal about". There are many kinds of pain that may lead to suicide. Whether or not the pain is bearable may differ from person to person. What might be bearable to someone else, may not be bearable to you. The point at which the pain becomes unbearable depends on what kinds of coping resources you have. Individuals vary greatly in their capacity to withstand pain.
When pain exceeds pain coping resources, suicidal feelings are the result. Suicide is neither wrong nor right; it is not a defect of character; it is morally neutral. It is simply an imbalance of pain versus coping resources.
You can survive suicidal feelings if you do either of two things:  find a way to reduce your pain, or  find a way to increase your coping resources. Both are possible.
Now I want to tell you six things to think about.
1 The first thing you need to hear is that people do get through this, even people who feel as badly as you are feeling now. Statistically, there is a very good chance that you are going to live. I hope that this information gives you some sense of hope.
2 The next thing I want to suggest to you is to give yourself some distance. Say to yourself, "I will wait 24 hours before I do anything." Or a week. Remember that feelings and actions are two different things,just because you feel like killing yourself, doesn't mean that you have to actually do it right this minute. Put some distance between your suicidal feelings and suicidal action. Even if it's just 24 hours. You have already done it for 5 minutes, just by visiting PFLAG. You can do it for another 5 minutes by continuing to read this article. Keep going, and realize that while you still feel suicidal, you are not, at this moment, acting on it. That is very encouraging to me, and I hope it is to you.
3 Are you feeling down because you're young and gay? The third thing we want to tell you is: it will get better. In a short time you'll be an adult and you can be free of this misery. Being gay is great: look at all the people in this magazine having happy lives. You can too. The PFLAG Survival Guide and other books can show you how.
4 The fourth thing is this: people often turn to suicide because they are seeking relief from pain. Remember that relief is a feeling. And you have to be alive to feel it. You will not feel the relief you so desperately seek, if you are dead.
5 The fifth thing is this: some people will react badly to your suicidal feelings, either because they are frightened, or angry; they may actually increase your pain instead of helping you, despite their intentions, by saying or doing thoughtless things. You have to understand that their bad reactions are about their fears, not about you.
But there are people out there who can be with you in this horrible time, and will not judge you, or argue with you, or send you to a hospital, or try to talk you out of how badly you feel. They will simply care for you. Find one of them. Now. Use your 24 hours, or your week, and tell someone what's going on with you. It is okay to ask for help. Try The Samaritans by phone or e mail worldwide, or look at the Places Guide or the front of your phone book for a crisis line, call a psychotherapist, carefully choose a friend or a minister or rabbi, someone who is likely to listen. But don't give yourself the additional burden of trying to deal with this alone. Just talking about how you got to where you are, releases an awful lot of the pressure, and it might be just the additional coping resource you need to regain your balance.
6 The last thing I want you to know right now is this: Suicidal feelings are, in and of themselves, traumatic. After they subside, you need to continue caring for yourself. Therapy is a really good idea. So are the various self help groups available both in your community and on the Internet and various online services.
Well, it's been a few minutes and you're still with me. I'm really glad.
Since you have made it this far, you deserve a reward. I think you should reward yourself by giving yourself a gift. The gift you will give yourself is a coping resource. Remember, back up near the top of the page, I said that the idea is to make sure you have more coping resources than you have pain. So let's give you another coping resource, or two, or ten...! until they outnumber your sources of pain.
Now, while this page may have given you some small relief, the best coping resource we can give you is another human being to talk with. If you find someone who wants to listen, and tell them how you are feeling and how you got to this point, you will have increased your coping resources by one. Hopefully the first person you choose won't be the last. There are a lot of people out there who really want to hear from you. It's time to start looking around for one of them.
Now we'd like you to call someone.
Here are some helplines and other resources:
trevor talkline for suicidal gay youth [usa]
1 866 4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386)
crisis intervention center [usa]
1 800 999 9999
london lesbian & gay switchboard [uk]
020 7837 7324
Link to The Trevor Project
PFLAG wants you here.
Being young and gay can be a lonely and isolating experience.
Often we can suffer from enormous pressure to conform to a very narrow idea of what is "normal". Faced with being labeled a minority, the perceived impossibility of finding a boyfriend, the difficulties of coming out, the false perceptions that gay people can't have families, that gay life is lonely, that your identity doesn't even fit with the "gay" identity, that gay people must live with AIDS, it's no wonder things feel hopeless.
Whether in or out of the closet, this pressure can be overwhelming. When we can't conform we are forced to keep secrets, tell lies, and feel inferior to peers. This leads to isolation and, unfortunately, depression. For some, depression becomes so great they believe suicide is the only option. A 1989 study on youth suicide commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that at least a third of all successful teen suicide is by gay teenagers.
That number is probably significantly higher because homophobia and shame often buries the actual reasons for suicide in studies involving teens. Nonetheless, at that rate, a gay teenager commits successful suicide every 5 hours and 48 minutes.
But suicide is never the only option. Things are rough for everyone at various points in life. That may not seem very uplifting a fact, but you should realize you're not alone. There are people waiting around, just to love you, in future years.
The fact is you will survive. And I know that because I did. I never would have imagined, 6 years ago, in the (sorry for the drama here) depths of despair, that I would be writing these words today, in the PFLAG office. My experience surviving young gay teen life wasn't the worst it could have been. But the fact remains, for some time I had no hope in spite of all the wonderful and loving things and people in my life. They were all there. Ijust didn't really know it. They loved me. I just didn't love myself.
But, I made it. You can too. Life is hard sometimes. It's not fair that queer teens have to survive an interminable amount of crap, but today more than ever it is possible to make it through. Life always seems to get better the more you cope and learn from hardship. Get help if you need it. Talk to someone.Trevor Talkline for suicidal gay youth
1 866 4-U-TREVOR
The Trevor Talkline
The Trevor Talkline was established in August of 1998 and is a suicide talkline for gay/lesbian/questioning youth. It's a toll free talkline, which means it's free and no evidence that you made the call will show up on the phone bill. Confidentiality is a top priority. The counselors at the talkline are are trained to deal with any kind of crisis. All are trained in gay and lesbian/confused/questioning and coming out issues; all are non judgmental; they will not make any judgments on you regardless of how you identify your sexuality or even if you can't identify it. According to Mary Graber, a crisis counselor who works at the talkline, here is what happens when someone calls:
The first thing the counselor does is ask questions in order to understand how high a risk of suicide there is. They ask questions like "Do you feel like killing yourself?" and, if so, they will ask, "Have you ever made an attempt before at killing yourself?" Usually someone who has made a previous attempt is at higher risk. They will also ask "Do you have a plan of how to kill yourself?" Usually someone who has a plan about how they are going to kill themselves is at an even higher risk.
The counselor will ask questions that try to get at why you are feeling like killing yourself. Some reasons are:
Depending on the way things go, Mary and the other counselors then give the appropriate referrals. Usually they do this by asking your zip code and then they give you a list of contact numbers of people you can trust to help you. Sometimes this is a crisis center, sometimes it's PFLAG [Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays], or other groups that might be helpful.
Mary said that anyone is welcome to call the Trevor Talkline, even if you just need someone to talk to and aren't feeling suicidal. Maybe you want to call the talkline with one of your friends present, that's OK too. The key is there's someone there for you and things will be much better when you call. Talking to someone makes all the difference in the world.