This month Asher Brown would have celebrated his 14th birthday. As we approach the six-month anniversary of his tragic passing on September 23, we are reminded of the importance of GLBT-affirming youth programs and anti-bullying efforts so that no child turns to suicide to end their pain and isolation.
Youth Specialist Deb Murphy, who runs MCC’s youth program HATCH, says, “The youth were devastated about Asher’s passing. They were confident that if only he had found his way to HATCH, we could have made all the difference.” HATCH has never lost a youth to suicide. By providing safe social environments, outreach and educational opportunities, positive role models, and enrichment activities, HATCH’s GLBT and Questioning youth know that they’re not alone and that they are loved and accepted just as they are.
Twice a year, including every March, HATCH focuses on suicide prevention by requiring the youth to fill out a personalized suicide prevention plan. The plan asks the youth to identify steps they will take and people they will contact when/if they are having thoughts of harming themselves. “Not a quarter goes by,” Murphy says, “where a HATCH youth doesn’t come into Montrose Counseling Center waving their suicide prevention plan and asking for help, and they are seen right away.”
Founded in 1953, The Diana Foundation supports these efforts. President John Heinzerling says, “As the oldest active GLBT organization in the nation, we feel a real sense of responsibility to our communities’ youth, to provide them with opportunities and support that many of us didn’t have growing up.” As evidence of their support, HATCH’s ongoing efforts, as well as MCC’s new GLBT homeless youth outreach program and MCC-sponsored Bullying Symposium this fall, have been chosen as beneficiaries of the upcoming Dianas Award Ceremony, which will be held on Saturday, March 12.
“We are honored to have the Diana’s support,” says Murphy, “It’s important that the youth know they are supported by established, respected organizations like the Dianas and other community groups.”
MCC and HATCH were recently featured in an anti-bullying segment on Great Day Houston:
Watch Too Many Empty Shoes, which highlights HATCH’s suicide prevention efforts:
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