Here to help

To the Editor:

It has been reported that at least six gay teens/college students committed suicide in the past few weeks. It seems like every day I am receiving messages about homophobic incidents and deaths at college campuses. Here at Williams, as we’ve celebrated Coming Out Week and National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, this seems to be especially disturbing news.

I want students to know that if you are suicidal or you think someone you know is, help is available, and recovery is possible!

My personal coming out story is directly linked to the tragic suicides of the only two queer people I knew at the time. When I heard of my friends’ passing I could not stay in the closet any longer. I had to let my truth be told, be out in the world, otherwise I knew that my fate might soon be the same as theirs. I tell you this because I want you to know that I am no stranger to suicide, and suicidal thoughts. You are not alone.

LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) teen suicide is not a new thing. It is, in my opinion, one of the most devastating disasters to the LGBTQ community. Speaking the truth is rarely easy; speaking the truth about your sexuality is especially difficult.

Did you know that nationally, 43 percent of all faculty, students and staff in higher education hide their sexual identity to avoid intimidation? Suicide is the second leading cause of death on college campuses (CDC 2008), and LGB people are four times as likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.

There is support here at Williams. For instance, we have a wonderful policy regarding therapy … it is free! If you need to talk, the Multicultural Center staff and I are available, just ask. I know professors, coaches and students who would be more than willing to sit with you. We also have amazing chaplains and deans.

In addition, there are initiatives like the Trevor Project, which are focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth. Finally, check out the video project started in response to these tragedies by Dan Savage, who will speak at Williams on Oct. 25th.