Esther Ybarra-Bryant lost her 13-year-old son, Nathan, when he decided to end his life.
This happened 25 years ago. Seeking solace, he was taken to the Hirsch Mental Health Center in Los Angeles, where he found support from others who had suffered the consequences of that crisis.
“When I met other mothers, other people who lost someone, seeing their pain, [que] I got carried away, we got together and we survived together”, said Ybarra Bryant.
Youth in the LGBTQ community are often victims of physical and verbal bullying. Many times they suffer in silence, which makes them more susceptible to suicide. Enrique Chiabra reports.
“It was already a community of survivors.”
Ybarra-Bryant became a volunteer at the center, offering the help she found to others there.
,[Quiero] Help other parents,” says Ybarra-Bryant. “Don’t let this broken heart happen to her, she lost her son, daughter to suicide.”
Although her son is no longer with her, Ybarra-Bryant says she feels him all the time.
“Every night when I see a bright star I say, ‘I love you, Nathan,'” his mother says. “And with that, it fills my heart, I’m happy, knowing she’s the brightest star.”
Resources for those who suffer in silence
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 45% of gay, lesbian and bisexual youth have contemplated suicide, compared to 15% of heterosexual adolescents.
But there are resources to prevent another death and for this segment of the population to continue to suffer in silence.
“We can help anyone who is having a crisis, having thoughts of suicide, or just someone else looking for help,” said Carla Centeno, bilingual coordinator for the 988 Crisis Line.
Due to discrimination and rejection, many transgender youth not only suffer from depression but also contemplate suicide. Enrique Chiabra reports.
The 988 line has been around for many years but that number has recently been changed to be easier to remember.
“We want that person to open up, tell us what’s happening in the moment,” Centeno says.
Many calls come from LGBTQ youth
“Depression, isolation, peer problems at school are some of the reasons LGBT youth call out,” said Franklin Romero of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
Bullying at school and in social networks disproportionately affects LGBTQ youth who already have risk factors.
“But it’s not just being LGBT that puts you at risk, it’s the environment, your family, school, peers, the community where you live,” says Romero.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has hired special counselors for the past two years.
According to the CDC, 45% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth have contemplated suicide, but the resources are in place to prevent another death. Enrique Chiabra reports.
LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said, “At any time, 24 hours a day, any child in our community can call and speak directly to someone who is trained to speak to them and then return the student to Can refer to another professional.”
“LGBTQ kids are under pressure that other kids don’t understand and can’t get past.”
Reducing the risk of suicide
Experts highlight the importance of dispelling myths associated with this problem.
“A lot of times we find that if we talk about suicide, the thoughts go up,” Centeno said. “And it’s the other way around, if the person tells us what’s happening, we can reduce the risk, and that’s our goal.”
Regardless of the numbers, just one death by suicide is already a huge loss that could have been avoided.
If you or someone else is experiencing a crisis, call 988 immediately. This line is confidential, free and available 24 hours a day.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988, or the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741 741 at any time.