Just a little more than one month ago, we were hit hard with the news that a local boy – barely a teenager – had taken his life after being bullied relentlessly at his school. The youth had been tormented by his classmates, in part, due to his sexual orientation. HATCH Youth Specialist Deb Murphy says that youth suicide is the culmination of a number of factors, and chief among them is isolation. Bullying certainly can contribute to that feeling, and if it goes unchecked for extended periods of time, can lead people – especially youth – to believe that they don’t matter. According to Murphy, youth have limited coping skills when it comes to physical and emotional pain, and when, “you feel like you don’t belong, and that you are a burden to everyone around you, suicide becomes an option.”
It’s an option we don’t want the youth to take, and one that HATCH addresses at least twice a year. According to Murphy, “We cannot be afraid of raising the issue because we know GLBT and questioning youth are at greater risk for attempting suicide, so the youth come up with their own plans to reach out for help should they begin to feel their options dwindling.”
The prevention plan seems to be working. “We have never lost a HATCH youth to suicide,” she says. HATCH goes a long way in reducing isolation by offering drop-in meetings three times a week. The youth have their own radio show for those who cannot make it to the meetings, an online forum, as well as Twitter and Facebook pages.
In Fiscal Year 2010, which concluded August 31, 249 youth attended a HATCH meeting or attended a HATCH event, such as the Annual Prom or the Pride Parade. That’s an increase from the previous year of nine percent. Some members of HATCH recently shared their thoughts about their first time coming to a HATCH meeting.