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Gay Suicide – the visible, invisible and hidden (Part One)
WHEN THE INVISIBLE BECOMES VISIBLE
Recently, gay youth suicide reached the media landscape in an unprecedented way. Initially one suicide made headlines as a result of bullying then another then another till five names were regularly repeated. Within several weeks it had been reported that Seth Walsh, 13, hanged himself in his backyard. Asher Brown, 13, shot himself after coming out of the closet. Billy Lucas, 15, hanged himself on the same day a group of students tormented him. Tyler Clementi, 18, jumped from a bridge because his roommate videotaped him in an intimate relationship and uploaded the images to the Internet. Raymond Chase, 19, hanged himself in his university dorm. The list goes on. Cody J. Barker 17 being the next. A tragedy to lose such young precious lives.
Of course for many of us in the LGBT community this comes as no surprise and something we have come to live with daily. Hence what had been relatively invisible to many suddenly became visible.
But this is not some new phenomena or epidemic; it’s been going on for decades. Whilst at Hunters Hill High School in the 60’s two of my fellow students took their lives. Harassment, name calling and bullying; contributing factors. When I was growing up, being a ‘homosexual’ meant you were imprisoned or treated with horrific practices to cure you such as aversion therapy or lobotomies; considered perverts. One would think that in this day of greater understanding and acceptance that these things would not be occurring.
Shamefully, awareness-raising has been previously resisted even amongst some suicide prevention organisations in Australia. Apparently the high rate of suicide amongst LGBT youth was not considered worthy of special attention or funding.
I remember when my autobiography was first released and I began doing media work, being told constantly by interviewers and producers that it was policy to not talk about the issue of suicide and that I shouldn’t mention it.
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