Why is the suicide rate so high among gay teens?

I spent time this afternoon reading articles and posts and watching a clip from Good Morning America.

You’ve gotta love the Internet.

The newspaper article and the GMA clip were about the upcoming TLC show “My Husband’s Not Gay.” My first reaction was one of frustration. But being tired and a little mentally wacky it quickly turned to anger.angry

I was angry at the suggestion that it was okay to flirt with a waiter in front of your wife (or even flirt with a waiter, for that matter).

I was angry at the derogatory, demeaning, slanderous statements posted about the wives of such men.

I was angry at the comments posted about how if you are gay, you’re gay. Otherwise, you are deluded.

I was angry at the blatant hypocrisy of not being accepting of someone walking a different path than what the gay community has mandated.

I was angry at the insistence that homosexuality is NOT a choice.

boxer2Not surprisingly, I spent the afternoon arguing with my imaginary friends, or rather, perceived enemies. After feeling like I had worked my way around to a great rebuttal to the argument, I sat down and began to type.

You will be relieved to hear that I hit delete after reading what I had furiously written. After some cardio to clear my head, I was a bit shocked at the angry, venom-filled retorts that had flown so freely and quickly. I almost couldn’t believe that I was the author.

But I was.

I slowed down and revisited the comments and thoughts that had sent me into a frenzy.

The GMA anchor had expressed how dangerous it was to say that homosexuality was a choice, because of all the teens who are committing suicide.hopeless2

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if their connotations and my connotations of the argument had the same definitions.

To me, someone is gay if they choose to live as a homosexual; to them, someone is gay if they find the same sex more appealing than the opposite.

I guess we could argue over semantics. Each side could present some incredibly potent points. Just ask me, I came up with some pretty great ones this afternoon.

But if I had rashly typed up my initial emotional reactions and hit send without a second thought, I know that I would have done more damage than good.

While I am VERY clear about my position on this issue, and will defend my right to that position vigorously and relentlessly, to jump into the fray of fractious fighting only closes ears and minds.

arguing2It kind of sounds like what happens when we react quickly, and angrily, and judgmentally to what comes out of a teenager’s mouth. It also sounds like what happens when teens react quickly, and angrily, and judgmentally to what comes out of a parent’s mouth.

Basically, reacting before we really understand just what it is that they are saying, and what it is that we are hearing.

Semantics.

It may be worthwhile to step back and just breathe quietly for a time. You know, do some cardio to clear your head, so to speak.

Failure to do so usually results in closed ears and minds, at a time when we so desperately need the other person to hear. To understand.

That knife cuts both ways.

So many of our youth are dying by suicide over conflicts of sexuality.

discouraged3We all know that every teen, with all of their own brain and body wirings, is going through a very difficult, confusing, scary, often lonely journey of self discovery.

Each has so many questions; questions about what is happening inside their bodies, questions about surviving a break up, questions about the drugs their peers seem to make appealing; questions about if it is really okay to try that sip of alcohol, questions about if cheating a little bit is just part of school, questions about feeling like an adult but still being considered a child, questions about faith and what they really believe.

So many questions.

However, opportunities to ask those questions seem to be rare.

busy peopleBecause each parent is going through a very difficult, confusing, scary, often lonely journey of being responsible for someone other than themselves.

Responsible for those they love the most.

And there really isn’t a well-documented manual on just how to do that. Parents make as many mistakes as do their children.

Sometimes we forget that.

The result is often what seems to be a hopeless situation of broken relationships and anger and fear.

snow

Hopeless.

Is anything really hopeless?

I’ve pondered the difference between being hopeful and being full of hope.

I know, semantics again.

But I think this distinction is important.

Someone we connote as being hopeful might be viewed as seeing life going in a specific direction; having a certain outcome; being as they imagined it should be.  Kind of sounds like wishing on a star and crossing our fingers and jumping right to the happy ending.

watching sunsetOn the other hand, someone who is full of hope knows that in choosing the destination, what matters most is choosing the direction to go. One full of hope can trust that the unknown will someday become understood.

Perspective comes into focus; all life decisions don’t have to be decided right now. There is time to figure it out.

You know, time to step back and breathe quietly.

Parents, can we take the time to really hear, and understand, and seek out the best guidance when our children come to us with life-altering feelings?

Teens, can you take the time to see that you have an entire life ahead of you to choose, and make mistakes, and learn, and choose again?

talkingFor all of us, tomorrow is another day to get up again and try one more time. But we have to keep getting up and trying one more time.

To me, this is what it means to have a perfect brightness of hope. Trusting in what we don’t yet know.

But hope to understand someday.

However, we need each other as we learn to understand. Parents are helping their children figure out how to be children; children are helping their parents figure out how to be parents.

Perhaps telling others what they should do (from both sides of the argument) isn’t as helpful as asking them what they feel they should do.

And helping them to figure it out for themselves.

Because in the end, the choice is up to each of us.

Regardless of the semantics.

 

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