Saturday, November 17, was National Survivors of Suicide Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness around the causes of suicide and in memory of those we have lost.
Anie Graham is someone to be remembered. A Lewiston teen found in her bedroom by her father in May of 2017, Anie had taken her own life. She was 13 years old. Some would call what Anie had endured “bullying,” but we need a different word. A fellow student reported to the Portland Press Herald, “When you think bullying, you think pushing around and harassing, but the words that were said to her were harassing,” said her 13-year-old classmate. “I’d rather have all my teeth knocked out than be called some of those names.” A ray of sunlight known for her smile and bubbly personality, Anie Graham had been struggling with depression for about 18 months. She tried counseling but the harassment continued and in the end, her depression showed her only one way out.
A study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) shows that black children between the ages of 5 and 11 are dying by suicide at twice the rate of white children.
We need to talk more about mental health and the effect it has on our youth. People on the margins need support in order to thrive. We live in a hostile environment for those who identify as other than white cisgender heterosexuals. Children on the margins are often neglected, misunderstood and disowned by their families, forced to contend with rampant harassment and abuse, and have diminished resources and places to turn.
This past Tuesday also marks the Transgender Day of Remembrance/Resilience, a day in which Trans people and their accomplices remember and raise up those we have lost and those who remain. A study published last month by the American Academy of Pediatricsof 617 U.S. adolescents aged 11-19 found that nearly 14 percent of youth have attempted suicide. Of that group, youth who identified as FTM (female to male) had the highest rate of attempted suicide at 50.8 percent. Non-binary (those who identify as neither male nor female) surveyed at 41.8 percent. Of youth who identify as MTF (male to female), 29.9 percent reported attempting suicide. Questioning youth 27.9 percent, cisgender female youth 17.6 percent, and cisgender male youth 9.8 percent.
We need to foster an environment of support. We need to be louder than the voices and people in power who sign bills dehumanizing transgender people and cut funding to programs designed to lift up people on the margins. We need to study up on the signs, ask questions and become beacons for each other. The problem doesn’t end with youth. Some survive and grow up questioning the merit of their existence. People in power have demonstrated that to them, human rights are subjective. We need to demonstrate to our youth and ourselves that Black lives do matter, trans people will not be erased, and no one is going to steal our sunlight.
one thing I don’t need
is any more apologies
i got sorry greetin me at my front door
you can keep yrs
i don’t know what to do wit em
they don’t open doors
or bring the sun back
they don’t make me happy
or get a mornin paper
didn’t nobody stop usin my tears to wash cars
cuz a sorry.
― Ntozake Shange, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
From HRC website: If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you’re a young LGBTQ person and need to talk to someone, call The Trevor Project’s 24-hour crisis hotline for youth at 1-866-488-7386. If you are a transgender person of any age, call the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860.