Suicide Among LGBT+ Youth; The Story of Leelah Alcorn

Discussion
Jan 11, 2016

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 24. In fact, 1 out of 6 students (grades 9-12) have seriously considered suicide in the past year.  

  

LGB youth are 4 times more likely and questioning youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide then their straight peers; Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made suicide attempts.  

  

Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average. But, LGBT youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times more likely to commit suicide compared to  their peers who experienced little to no family rejection.  

  

In Ohio, a 17-year-old transgender teenager, Leelah Alcorn, also known as Joshua, committed suicide by walking in front of a tractor trailer. After the tragedy, authorities found the suicide note she left, in which she explained the reason for her suicide. 

  

 Her parents, both devout Christians, did not agree with Joshua's transformation to Leelah and were not accepting of their child's identity 

  

a portion of the note reads: 

 

"When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me." 

  

Alcorn goes on to explain how her parents forced her to go to a therapist, and pulled her out of school once she came out in spite of them. She was completely alone for 5 months with no friends or support of any kind; the disappointment of her parents and the cruelty of loneliness fueled her depression.  

  

Even after Leelah's death, her parents refused to use the pronouns that she preferred. "We don’t support that, religiously," Alcorn's mother told CNN 

  

The suicide of Leelah Alcorn gained mass recognition on social media, the hashtag #LeelahAlcorn carried messages of support for all transgender people. As well as calling for a rise of action to protect LGBT people.  

  

"My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s f***ed up” and fix it. Fix society. Please." 

 

Comments

Well Written!!

Submitted by dominiquebird on Wed, 2016-02-03 20:44.

Extremely well written and captivating, an interesting style with the point separated into different blocks. What you say is heartbreaking and I'm glad you brought attention to this subject that so many seem to ignore. You cite your sources well and provide lots of good information. The part that simply says "a portion of the note reads:" I feel like that could be in with another chunk of text. Seriously though, I felt like I was reading a news article :) thanks for the read.

This is quite a powerful idea

Submitted by TMGanell on Wed, 2016-02-24 11:56.

This is quite a powerful idea and I am really glad you brought it up. The story of Leelah Alcorn is heart breaking, but definitely needs to be shared. Your writing is really good. I love how you intermittently put quotes from her letter to prove your point. It makes your writing have more meaning and a strong voice. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I learned a lot form your article. It makes me so sad about how her parents treated her. The job of a parent is to love their child no matter what or who they chose to become. I can't imagine the pain her parents caused. It certainly makes me appreciate my parents and their support.

Excellent job!