I HAD NO IDEA how many nationally-recognized “special occasions” in addition to Thanksgiving, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Veterans’ Day and Election Day there were in the month of November. There are at least 8 more. The one that really caught my spirit and refused to be relegated to my internal cache of Trivia Pursuit answers was International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, which happens to be the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It’s the one day a year when people affected by suicide loss gather around the world at events in their local communities to find comfort and gain understanding as they share stories of healing and hope.
My initial thoughts were peripheral. I thought that it was a great idea and that a lot of folks could use the support. I wondered if there was any place that used the day to add visibility to LGBTQQI suicide rate. I tried to recall whether it was a documented fact that these rates were higher among queers of color or if that’s something I simply believe to be true just being a member of QOC communities. I didn’t have time to look it up, so I filed it away for later inquiry.
At least, that was my plan. Unfortunately, the problem with tucking undesirable stuff away is that it always finds a way to gain prevalence in your life. Always. I have an intimate relationship with being the survivor of queer self-inflicted death. To be honest, many of the folks who know me have no idea how close I’ve come to adding them to the macabre category of suicide loss survivor.
One of my biggest challenges to staying alive has been coming to terms with the racism and its twin classism in the LGBTQ community. We all want to believe that queers don’t hate like that. To date, I’ve personally experienced 15 gay people taking their own life and or making really poor decisions because of hate/isolation that resulted in the end of their life. Five of those folks were white; eight of them identified as transgender.
While suicide impacts all types of people, you’d have to be
willfully ignoring the world around you to be unaware of the epidemic—actually what the press is calling it—of “LGBTQ Youth Suicide.” If this is true, then it must also be true that there is an epidemic of “LGBTQ Survivors of LGBTQ Youth Suicide Loss.” So it stands to reason that there isn’t one of you out there whose life is not touched, and I would say radically affected, by this information.
So let’s do our community a solid. On November 22, light a candle for all survivors. Call up those friends you’ve not seen since the funeral and just tell them you love them. Post a Facebook message celebrating the lives of those left behind and our courage to carry on. Remind yourself that it’s good that you are still here and you matter. Care. It’s not just another “dumb Hallmark holiday.”
Learn more: SurvivorDay.org