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Trevor Project Unveils National Campaign to Prevent LGBT Teen Suicide

by Holly  Grigg-Spall
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Sunday Sep 16, 2012

The leading national organization for suicide prevention services for LGBT and questioning teens, The Trevor Project, is promoting their Talk To Me campaign to coincide with the National Suicide Prevention Month of September. Targeting the wider public to raise awareness of suicide prevention and life saving strategies, Talk To Me is inspired by research released by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this month that indicates promotion of help-seeking has a significant impact on this serious issue.

"Talk To Me compliments our established crisis intervention resources, such as the Trevor Lifeline and Trevor Chat," CEO Abbe Lande told EDGE.

"Having community involvement in suicide prevention is tremendous. So far 3,000 people have pledged. We recognize how important it is to have someone to talk to and each one of us can be that person."

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people age 10 to 24, and LGB youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers. Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives and one-quarter report having made a suicide attempt. The Talk To Me project provides encouragement for anyone to pledge to be a person someone can turn to when contemplating suicide via the online pledge form.

The Trevor Project-created National Suicide Prevention Month takes in National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 9 -15), World Suicide Prevention Day (Sept. 10) and The Trevor Project Day (Sept. 27). September is a particularly tumultuous and sometimes stressful time for teens that are starting or returning to school.

"Anytime we are making connections between youths is good," said Michael Ferrera, communications director of the Los Angeles-based LifeWorks, the youth development and mentoring program of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center. "In LA, we're far ahead in terms of resources, but if you're a teen living in the Southern states things can be no different to the 1980s for you. If you're a youth of color anywhere you may also be more isolated."

"From working in the field I've seen that if young LGBT people can't share who they are and are forced to suffer in silence this can lead to depression," he continued. "They can be sat in a classroom with tens of people and feel isolated. If you have five peer connections you are less likely to experience the problems that lead to depression."

Another element of the Talk To Me project is the NTL text campaign, a text-speak abbreviation of Need To Talk Live that The Trevor Project encourages anyone to use if they need a easy, comfortable way of asking someone to contact them immediately by phone or face-to-face.

The organization is currently working on Trevor Text as an addition to their crisis intervention resources. Young people are also encouraged to leave life-affirming and uplifting sticky notes for their friends and anyone they see as in need of support. By taking and uploading an Instagram photo of the note to the Internet, this method of making connections can have an impact in the real and online worlds.

"Talk To Me is more than a project, it’s a movement," said Lande. "We want to change a cultural norm. At this time, the norm is telling people they shouldn’t say when they’re feeling bad, they should buck up and put a smile on their face. But a lot of times we all have issues and it is positive to ask for help. We should reach out."

Talk To Me has attracted some well-known advocates, including Kevin McHale of "Glee" and "Harry Potter" actor Daniel Radcliffe. McHale gives the initiative’s Public Service Announcement, and Radcliffe will be heading a live Google Hangout via Google + on Sunday, September 16 when he will take questions submitted online and posed by members of The Trevor Project’s Youth Advisory Council. The event will be moderated by Shira Lazar of the show What’s Trending with Shira Lazar, and will be broadcast through and on The Trevor Project’s YouTube and Google+ pages.

"My work with The Trevor Project has taught me that the best thing I can do as a straight ally is show my support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," said Radcliffe. "When we let someone know that we accept them for who they are and that we are safe to talk to, we can help save lives. It’s as simple as that."

"LGBT youths are faced with many challenges that impact their mental health. Being a teen is hard for everyone and on top of that you have to worry that you might be rejected by your friends or your family because of your sexuality," said Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network Communications Director Daryl Presgraves, who works in conjunction with the Trevor Project. "LGBT youths especially need someone to turn to. We want to work towards a time when being an LGBT youth is no different to not being LGBT."

On Trevor Day, local groups across the country are holding events and rallies at which they will display signs with positive, inspirational messages in an effort to decimate the lesson of Talk To Me far and wide.

"I can relate to the issues LGBT teens face," said Trevor Lifeline volunteer Kyle. "I was a teen growing up in the South. I felt isolated. I wish The Trevor Project and the Talk To Me campaign was around when I was young. I needed it."

The Trevor Project was founded in 1998 by James Lecesne, Peggy Rajski and Randy Stone, the creators of the Academy Award-winning short film "Trevor." The organization arose from the response to this film and the creators realization that there were many youths going through similar experiences to the film’s protagonist, a 13-year-old boy with a crush on a fellow male student. The Trevor Project founded the first national helpline specifically for LGBT youth. The Trevor Lifeline currently receives 35,000 calls annually.

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  • Bob K, 2012-09-16 18:56:02

    Anderson Cooper won $50,000 on Jeopardy for the Trevor Project, smashing his opponents (although I knew more answers than he did, lol) On his own show, he told Richard Gere about seeing "Bent" when young, and how it helped him a young Gay man. For those who criticized Anderson, I suggest re-thinking.

  • Wayne M., 2012-09-18 18:19:21

    The most important gift that any adult can give to LGBT and Questioning youth is hope. This means they have to have someone to turn to and discuss what they feel about their sexuality, their lives and where they will find support rather than judgment or bullying.

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