Eric Leven

Trevor Project on CNN

Filed By Eric Leven | July 06, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media
Tags: CNN, coming out advice, coming out of the closet, LGBT community, LGBT services, suicide, suicide helplines, Trevor Project

Pat on the back to CNN for featuring this article on The Trevor Project. I have known about The Trevor Project for a few years now and really commend their efforts. It is a relief to know this is available for queer youth - true life savers.

Trevor-Project-logo_300w.jpgI tried to prevent myself from saying this but what the hell: Keep this article in mind when the Churches and Right-Wingers talk about all the "saving" they do.

The transgendered woman on the other end of the line was threatening to kill herself by jumping off of a parking structure. The Trevor Helpline counselor who answered the phone worked to get the 24-year-old calm and immediately called police for help.

Exactly one month later, that same woman called the helpline back -- to thank them for saving her life.

Stories like these are the reason The Trevor Project operates its helpline, the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention number for gay and questioning youth. More than 500 volunteers are trained for 40 hours to run the bicoastal call centers.

"There's a high level of stress that youth face in the transition from youth to adulthood," Charles Robbins, executive director of The Trevor Project, said. "Add on top of that the challenges of sexual orientation or gender identity and we get 15,000 calls a year."

A 2005 Massachusetts Department of Education survey of 3,500 high school students, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found almost 11 percent have seriously considered suicide. And that percentage is almost four times as high for 10 to 24-year-olds who identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

"Because of the unfortunate stigma that still exists in the United States around homosexuality ... youth tend to hold back their feelings, don't disclose, live in denial or shame," Robbins said.

Every year The Trevor Project honors one individual who publicly works to reject that stigma and helps in the group's overall goal: to promote the acceptance of gay and questioning youth in society. This year's honoree, actor Alan Cumming, has been "unapologetic, and true to himself," Robbins said.

Despite the notion that it's seemingly "easier" to come out these days I can tell you that upon realizing that I myself might be gay I definitely entertained and fantasized the idea of ending my life. Realizing same-sex attraction while dealing with the myriad of other teen and high school angst-ridden problems isn't an easy thing to handle. I still remember those days and I'm glad they're far behind me.

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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 7, 2008 4:04 AM

Eric, thank you for this. Several years ago I was having a coffee in Peoria Il. I read a local article about a Gay mentoring group for youth that included remarks from the young people involved. The universal remark/desire was "getting out of Peoria." The address of the group was the same as the mall of a customer of mine in town and I talked with the store owner about it (he was family). They had a second floor donated office.

I sent a check and a letter on my Chicago business letterhead suggesting that if "the group" would like a guest speaker when next I was in Peoria I would love to prepare something and have a give and take discussion about career alternatives. They cashed the check, but no follow up, even though my letterhead included a toll free number.

I am glad to know of The Trevor Project. GLBT youth needs mentoring in a non threatening setting that is still largely unprovided. One of our great shames is that there are queer kids homeless and afraid tonight.

The Trevor Project is a true community resource. If I had a bazillion dollars...