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Alexis Aaby: Bullying is still a problem, especially for LGBT youth

October 19, 2017 GMT

Five thousand.

That is the number of LGBT youth who commit suicide each year, according to Psychology Today. That is an average of 13.7 per day, 13.7 people that are killing themselves because of bullying, lack of acceptance, violence, depression, and many other harmful contributing factors due to their sexuality.

And that is just those who have succeeded in ending their own lives. There are 500,000 LGBT youth who attempt to do the same, but are unsuccessful. That is roughly 10 percent of the entire population of Minnesota. Imagine if that many people were successful. Imagine if that many people just wiped themselves off the face of the Earth because of lashback and criticism for who they are.

My intention is not to insult or offend anyone. I am simply saying what I believe needs to be said. This may very well seem tasteless to those who pride themselves on being devout, and I am not saying that is a bad thing. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and everyone’s opinion deserves to be respected and listened to. But as a Christian born into a religious family, as a teenager who enjoys going to church on Wednesday nights and learning about the work of God, my opinion is that I am dispirited by how much of an issue this still is in today’s society, and how many people are being hurt because of it.

Speaking from personal experience, I have overheard people at my own school talking about an openly LGBT classmate behind his or her back, and I am sure that they are not the only ones who have done so. Though my generation is, as I have heard time and time again from my teachers and from other adults, one of the most accepting as far as sexuality and ethnicity, bullying of this nature is still a problem. While it might be a short-term emotional burden for some, for others, bullying can affect them for years, maybe even well into their adulthood.

Being bullied can be a huge blow to your self-esteem, and can cause issues such as depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, loss of social connections, and suicide. Every time an LGBT youth is the direct target of verbal or physical bullying, they become 2.5 times more likely to attempt suicide, according to save.org.

Transitioning from youth-to-youth relationships to youth-to-adult relationships, there is a large percentage of LGBT youth who are thrown out of their homes after coming out to their family. In fact, statistics show that more than one out of four youth who come out are cast aside.

Not many, and certainly not enough, are lucky enough to come from supporting families. Some of those who do come from supporting families don’t know it, and are scared of what the reactions may be. Others find they have nothing left to lose. No one I know has ever been unfortunate enough to have been rejected altogether by their family, and I deeply hope that no one I know ever is.