National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Tackles LGBT Suicide
Before he completed suicide at the age of 26 in 2010, Joseph Jefferson recorded his final words on Facebook: “I could not bear the burden of living as a gay man of color in a world grown cold and hateful towards those of us who live and love differently than the so-called ‘social mainstream.’”
Though LGBT suicide is frequently portrayed as a wholly youth phenomenon, Joseph was an LGBT activist who had built a life for himself as an adult after getting through what many people assume to be the only tough part of an LGBT person’s life—adolescence.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the public-private partnership aimed at saving the more than 34,000 lives in the United States lost every year to suicide, has taken a lead in changing public misperceptions about LGBT suicide. In particular, the Action Alliance task force that concentrates on the LGBT population has changed its name from the LGBT Youth Task Force to the LGBT Populations Task Force, acknowledging the struggles with suicide ideation, suicide attempts, and death by suicide that many LGBT people confront at different points in their lives.
The reasons that suicide is a lifelong concern for many LGBT people are complex and dynamic. These risk factors include family rejection, lack of social support, lack of access to culturally competent healthcare providers, and the stress of living with discrimination and prejudice.