We are all familiar with bog hops. Normally they are in celebration of something fun – a holiday season, or a type of fiction, or a type of character. But this week – Sunday 8th September to Saturday 14th September is Suicide Prevention Week and I am taking part in a bog hop to inform, educate and raise awareness of the risk faced by young people and, sadly, in particular young LGBT people.
In the United Kingdom 12 young men kill themselves each week.
57% of gay/bisexual boys have seriously contemplated taking their own lives.
16% of gay/bisexual boys have attempted to take their own lives [3 times the percentage of straight kids].
20% of lesbians have attempted to take their own lives [4 times the percentage of straight kids].
Bullying at school and at home leading to depression, loss of friends and support groups, substance abuse as a substitute for affection, fear of being rejected by family, fears of rejection justified, homelessness, all these contribute to these horrifying statistics.
There are places one can go for help, The Samaritans, for instance, but it is reported that 60% of suicidal young men state they would not seek help and 67% say they feel there is nowhere that can offer them the emotional support they need.
That so many people are driven to despair simply because of who they are is tragic. Despite legislation that has improved equality and given some redress against harassment or discrimination, our LGBT citizens have to face it everyday in small unkindnesses that build up and up to an unmanageable burden.
What can we do – we ordinary people without medical qualifications or psychological degrees? What can we do if we don’t know anyone we suspect of being in such a state that they need real hands on help to get them through a bad patch?
Small things are good too.
We can think before we speak and if we hear someone else speaking out of turn – “Eww that’s so gay” – we can say “please don’t say that”. If we hear or witness a homophobic phrase or act, we can tell the perpetrator that they are out of order. If we see something we suspect to be bullying going on, we can step in as a witness. Anyone can do this. You don’t need to be a martial artist. You don’t need to be fit. You don’t need to be young. Just be aware that it happens and ready to step in if you see it. And remember, just because someone looks serene as a swan on the surface, it doesn’t mean they aren’t paddling frantically against the undertow.
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