As I prepared this month’s column, news of actor and comedian Robin Williams’ death dominated the airwaves and social media. Normally, I do not follow celebrity news. But the immediate outpouring of heartfelt tributes at the news of his suicide resonated with me. As a mental health practitioner and as someone who has struggled with deep depression that included thoughts of suicide, I was reminded that those who enjoy great success sometimes endure great distress.
To help anyone who may be struggling with such thoughts, let’s review the warning signs of suicide and offer resources. This is especially important for the LGBT community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers. Almost half of transgender youth have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one-quarter report having made a suicide attempt. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported that those statistics related to youth were consistent among LGBT adults as well.
A critical first step in prevention is knowing the warning signs of suicide. The Trevor Project offers the following indicators that you or someone you know might be considering suicide:
Have you or someone you know felt ...
• Unimportant?
• Trapped?
• Hopeless?
• Overwhelmed?
• Unmotivated?
• Alone?
• Irritable?
• Impulsive?
• Suicidal?
Do you or someone you know ...
• Not care about their future? “It won’t matter soon anyway.”
• Put themselves down ― and think they deserve it? “I don’t deserve to live. I suck.”
• Express hopelessness? “Things will never get better for me.”
• Say goodbye to important people? “You’re the best friend I’ve ever had. I’ll miss you.”
• Have a specific plan for suicide? “I’ve thought about how I’d do it.”
• Talk about feeling suicidal? “Life is so hard. Lately I’ve felt like ending it all.”
Have you or someone you know been ...
• Acting differently than usual?
• Using drugs or alcohol more than usual?
• Giving away their most valuable possessions?
• Losing interest in their favorite things to do?
• Admiring people who have died by suicide?
• Planning for death by writing a will or letter?
• Eating or sleeping more or less than usual?
• Feeling more sick, tired or achy than usual?
Although suicide is a challenging issue, help is available for those who struggle with suicidal thoughts and their loved ones. These organizations provide education and support. More important, they are LGBT-focused or practice LGBT-competent care:
The Trevor Project
Trevor Project
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
877-GET-SPRC (438-7772)
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
800-273-TALK (8255)
Kyle Danner is an organizer for the LGBT-Affirmative Therapists Guild of Greater Kansas City. He received a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City."

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