TW: The article addresses suicide.
Dear LGBT youth of India,
On World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, here is a little something I would like to share with some brave individuals—us!
Just four days back, we celebrated the anniversary of the scrapping of section 377. A long-pending legal victory, a sight of rainbow among black clouds! But, the external struggles to bring a ‘mindset change’, and the internal struggle to maintain one’s mental health still continues. With this backdrop, I would say, let’s first validate the pressures which this society offers, our hidden selves which suffer, and the minds which are invisible, and which differ from the outside world.
A couple of months back 19-year-old Avinshu from Chennai died by suicide because of homophobia. His viral and painful Facebook post talked about what people around him perceived about his sexual orientation, and how they harassed him.
But one must note that this was one of those few cases which came to the forefront. Even though organisations like the WHO consider suicide rates to be high among vulnerable groups who experience discrimination, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) persons, it is not a topic that gets as much attention as it deserves.
We need statistics on the suicide rate among LGBT youth in India, and its relation to their orientation, how many of them have had suicidal thoughts, and how many suffer from frequent episodes of depression. For example, studies, like one by Giacomo (2018), show how adolescents from sexual minority groups face more risk of life-threatening behaviour compared to their heterosexual counterparts. However, we still need to know the numbers from our local contexts, and an in-depth understanding to plan services and actions like counseling, support groups, and any required treatments.
External triggers affect internal mind-states. Cases of homophobia, bullying, discrimination, and subtle strokes of ‘you are not wanted ‘ leave us nowhere. Real life support systems, like helplines, making them accessible, anti-discrimination committees, and anti-bullying education will help.
It’s very easy for an outsider to say or preach—”All is well”, “Time shall pass”, “Everything will be alright”, “Divert yourself with work”, “No need to be sad”. Amidst all these messages which invalidate the existence of pain, what we need is space. A safe space to share our thoughts and feelings, spaces where we are not judged, and space where we are listened to.
If one were to Google ‘ways to commit suicide‘, the results might surprise you! A sensitive step by Google, it doesn’t actually show results for ways to die by suicide, rather it shows various helpline numbers. Isn’t that great? A ray of support in the darkness.
September 10 is observed as Suicide Prevention Day to create awareness, and take committed action.
Without denying the stigma and homophobic atmosphere of the wide world, we also need to notice that there is support available. Let’s not lose our ability to notice the support.
With a ‘Hi-Fi’ to our abilities to fight,
Good luck to us!
Note: The author is part of the current batch of the Writer’s Training Program.