It’s never a wrong time to spark the narrative about suicide and how super destructive it is to our community . Suicidal thoughts, much like many other mental health conditions, does not discriminate regardless of age, gender, or background. The percentages off how many people die of this self inflicting disease is eye opening.
I guess this is the part where I use scare tactics to put suicide into a personal perspective. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), there are more than 44,000 people who die from suicide a year. If that didn’t hit home check this out , on average, there are about 123 people committing suicide every single day!
I found my way scrolling though a well known platform called the Trevor Project that has a page on their website regarding LGBT Suicide statistics.
I can’t make this up! The fact that I am three times more likely to kill myself just because I am young and gay scares me. It scares me because beyond the vibrant stripes of the symbol we use an express victory and self-admiration aka the gay flag, lies 40 to 60 percent of my brothers and sisters of the queer community enduring the effects of rejection, hate, and abuse that are the threshold of depression and suicide.
With all this being said I have some good news and bad news. The bad news is that suicide is an internal monster that many of us have had conflicts with. These heartbreaking numbers do exist and they continue to grow as I write. The good news is that this beast doesn’t have to be the killer it is, there are measures we can take. What can we do?
Given that depression is a huge component that is linked to suicide its important attack the manifestation at its core. I’ve had my share of suicidal thoughts, and I also come from a lineage of suicide in my own family. Through the years I have developed some of my own coping strategies that have been stellar for me. Some of these tactics may be a bit cliche and traditional, however, whatever I can do to empower my community, I’m doing it! Here are my 5 ways of combatting depression.
Meditation has literally saved my life so far. It continues to protect my mind and my energy because it allows me to mindfully redirect my thoughts. It doesn’t take much time or exertion to practice meditation.
You don’t need to be in an uncomfortable stance for hours upon hours for this strategy to work. All you need in order to perform this activity is music ( Here are some examples of tracks from Youtube that I would listen to) and a good 5-10 minutes alone. The simplest route you can take is to find a quiet space in your home and literally just sit in a chair with the music playing.
“But Julian, it’s so hard to focus. Every time I shut my eyes I end up losing my train of thought, which makes me even more upset.” My answer every time to statements like these are ” You must breathe” and ” You must focus”.Really breathe! Breathe in and out through your nose even if you have to exaggerate it. However, focusing can be a little tricky because humans are designed to think freely at a fast rate which can work for or against us.
When meditating you should be focusing on one thought, and one thought only. Try focusing on your personal goals, your loved ones, or the moment in your life where you were the happiest. I’m not gonna lie to you It will seem awkward at first, but then again what new thing we haven’t tried isn’t. Practicing meditation every day for just 5 quick minutes could be the difference in fighting depression.
Self Admiration, Self Love
To admire ones’ self is accepting yourself for all that you are. This means you not only appreciate your greatness, but you are also acknowledging the “not so hot things” that exist within you as well. Ever heard of a mantra? A mantra is a term that the Buddhist utilize which are similar to how other religions practice their methods of praying. Mantras are repeated words, quotes, or phrases that focus your mind on whatever you’re are speaking. Mantras are an excellent way of practicing self-admiration, its super easy and you can utilize them at any moment.
Here are examples of a few simple mantras that you can use:
” I am worth it”, ” I am enough”, ” I am loved”, “I am strong”
See! It’s that simple.
These are the mantras I use every single day:
” Anything I want I can have”, “I can, I will, I must”, ” Your woes of yesterday have nothing to do with your happiness of today”
Try it. Even if you have to write it down in your notes so you don’t forget it, it’s worth it. You are worth it!
Ever heard of the saying ” A closed mouth never gets fed”? Well, the same principle applies to depression. The worst thing to do with depression is to keep it balled up inside of you. I’ve learned that it is ok to feel whatever you are feeling. If you’re feeling like sh*t, tell someone you feel like sh*t. ” What If I don’t like people and I don’t feel like telling anyone my business?” Listen, I totally understand where you are coming from. I am a firm believer in intuition and taking caution of certain things that don’t feel authentic to you. I am in no way shape or form forcing you to be open with others. However, there is a refreshing feeling you get after expressing yourself to other.
Remember that hard night of partying and drinking? Your head was spinning out of control and your stomach began to do all sorts of twists and turns. Remember how your body felt like complete and utter sh*t? You run to the nearest bathroom and BOOM, puke is flying everywhere, but then something miraculous happens. All of a sudden the pain you once felt moments ago swiftly fades away. Then you strut happily back to the dance floor with vomit remains on your shirt. The same thing can happen If you are willing to be open to others.
With that being said, If you’re still not ready, just know that whenever you are, there will be people waiting to support. Speaking of support………..
Support usually comes after being open with others about your struggles. There are many different forms of support. Family, friends, teachers, therapists, and any other person who is willing to understand you and lend a helping hand. But wait, there is also another source of support that I forgot to tell you. What if I told you that there were organizations that specialize in supporting our high risked community, would you believe me? Establishments such as South Florida’s Pridelines , The LGBT Center NYC, and the Philip Rush Center in Atlanta , are all non- profit organizations that are safe places for the LGBT community.
There are times when individuals who suffer from depression have no one to turn to. And not having anyone to support you in a time of need only adds to your suffering. Thankfully we have open access to these facilities, who’s main purpose is to support us in every way possible. The best part about going to these safe spaces is that you get to be surrounded by people who are going through similar situations as you are. Seriously, reach out, these organizations are dying to help people cope with depression, they are looking for you.
Do Something You Enjoy
This is self explanatory. By simply doing something you love to do you will put yourself in a position of happiness. There’s a reason why we feel happiness, excitement, and pleasure throughout our whole body when we are participating in activities that we like. Our brain recognizes good feelings and release the chemical called Dopamine throughout our body which causes us to feel amazing. This is important to understand when dealing with depression because the engagement in activities like writing, dancing and working out are the things than release the happy chemicals within us, which allows us to then cope with our depression. However , there is a side note to keep in the mind. Sometimes there are activities that we partake in that we may think are good for us, but they might not be the best for our well being. For example, there are people who cope with depression by smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or over eating. It necessary to note that these activities can make some of us feel great in the short term, but can have a negative long term effects on our bodies.
So what have we learned? Untreated depression can lead to suicide, suicide is a b*tch, and the LGBT community is victimized by it the most. There are a number of ways to cope with depression, pick one that works for you . Remember you are worth it, you are enough, you are loved, and you are strong!