Over the course of the last two years there has been a proliferation in media coverage of gay and lesbian suicide coverage. The following names should ring a bell. Tyler Clementi, Lance Lundsten, Justin Aaberg, Samantha Johnson, and most recently, Jacob Rogers.
This list is skimpy in comparison to those who don’t get media coverage like the high school student out in Colorado earlier this year in August who committed suicide as a suspected bullycide. When an LGBT Commits Suicide.
But since the start of the coverage, it seems like the suicides are becoming more desperate. Jacob Rogers left his passwords so people could blatantly see that his suicide was directly thought out. His suicide was premeditated with the intention of people knowing the reasoning for his suicide. And even more dramatically, a teen Jamey Rodemeyer, who created an It Get’s Better Video committed suicide shortly there after. (It get’s better! I promise!)
There are statistics that discuss the higher rates of suicide within the LGBT community but even these may seem skeptical. Live Science writer Benjamin Radford discusses the inaccurate portrayal of suicide rates in the LGBT community citing sociology chair Joel Best of the University of Delaware.
“Advocates began with the largely discredited assumption that one-tenth of the population is homosexual, derived from Alfred Kinsey’s 1940s research. In fact more recent studies and polls find that around 1 percent to 3 percent of the population is homosexual. The advocates further assumed the proportion held true for teens (it may or may not), and out of about 4,500 annual teen suicides, figured that one-tenth (450) should involve gay or lesbian teens.” (Is There a Gay Teen Suicide Epidemic)
With this in mind, it could be possible that with the It Get’s Better Project, the constant throw up of LGBT suicide statistics, and the persistent coverage of LGBT suicides in the media is creating a viral self fulfilling prophecy for the LGBT community. With all this information in the air and with the thousands of LGBT teens who track these stories and statistics, the teens could be joining in solidarity by committing suicide as sort of twisted mass hysteria in protest.
By all means, if this is true, what can be done to pull back the numbers and get teens to stop committing suicide? Arguably, share the stories where teens chose to live. The It Get’s Better Project helps, but there are unfortunately too many sad stories of coming to age before it get’s better. Like perhaps, life sucks now, just wait and it will get better.
Perhaps the message should provide some coping skills for the mean time. Because life can’t get better without working to make it better. And to make things better, people must embrace themselves and survive. And to do that, there needs to be more positivity in the media. Most media covers only the sad stories while making it gruelingly depressing like Queerty.com who wrote in regards to Jacob’s story:
“What’s saddest though is that because Rogers lived with his grandmother, she alone can’t pay for his funeral costs. She’s currently accepting donations at a local tattoo shop just so she can bury her own grandson. Mega sad.” (Before Killing Himself)
Instead of that. Cover a story where someone thought about suicide, but chose to live. Those are the stories where the answers to suicide prevention are going to be hiding.