If reports are to be believed, as many as four major suicide hotlines reported a significant increase in the number of calls, text messages and chats from “distressed” Americans, many of whom were from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, as trends started indicating the victory of Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the U.S. presidential election. People calling the helplines expressed helplessness, despair and uncertainty, and feared for the safety of their parents and families.
Apparently, those callers were distressed by the fact that Trump and Pence, during their election campaign, had announced to annul the Obama’s administration initiative on reforms related to marriage equality and transgender people’s rights. While Trump had said he would nominate conservative members to the U.S. Supreme Court to amend laws related to equal rights for minorities, Pence had supported a controversial therapy to cure the sexual orientation of LGBT people.
Calls to helplines for support
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, one of the largest crisis counseling networks in the U.S. committed to suicide prevention, received 660 calls between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2016, immediately preceding the official announcement of Trump as the president-elect. This was two and a half times higher than the average volume of calls received by the helpline during the same time on a regular night. Crisis Text Line, a support network which responds to distress text messages, received double the number of cases on the mornings of Nov. 8 and 9. The commonly occurring words in the text messages were “election” and “scared,” the latter being repeatedly used in conjunction with “LGBT.”
Trans Lifeline, a support helpline specializing in transgender issues, received around 500 calls between November 8 and 9, surpassing its previous record of 251 calls in a day when the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, also known as HB2 or the bathroom bill, came into force in North Carolina. The Trevor Project, a free helpline offering support via chat, phone or text to LGBT people aged 25 or younger, reported a spate of calls after the outcome of the elections. Steve Mendelsohn, deputy executive director of the Trevor Project, had to call in additional volunteers to deal with an expected increase in people contacting the helpline.
Risk of suicide in LGBT people
The LGBT youths are prone to a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts. A survey of adolescents in grades seven to 12 established that there was more than double the risk of lesbian, gay or bisexual individuals attempting suicides than their heterosexual counterparts. A January 2014 study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute that analyzed data from the U.S. National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported 41 percent transgender individuals to have attempted suicide in comparison to 4.6 percent of the general population.
LGBT people regularly face discrimination in the society, at their workplaces and in the eyes of the law, resulting in a high degree of vulnerability. In the aftermath of November 2016 elections, the Internet was abuzz with rumors of suicides by transgender teens. However, these reports remained unsubstantiated and journalists withdrew their posts on social media fearing similar acts by other transgender teenagers.
Seeking help is the key
John Draper, project director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, mentions that when people become anxious and worried, they should adhere to routines, carry on with their professional lives and exercise. He advocates people to switch off from news and social media and spend time with family and friends instead. Volunteering and helping others can be healing under such circumstances, advises Draper.
When a situation becomes alarming and people harbor suicidal tendencies, professional help and counseling is recommended. If you know someone suffering from mental health issues, you may contact the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to know about mental health facilities in your vicinity. You can call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with our representatives who can guide you to one of the best mental health centers.