Heather Carter is being honored as a Champion of Change for her work ensuring safety, dignity, and equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, as demonstrated by her inspiring video entry in the LGBT Pride Month Video Challenge.
Death by suicide is the third-largest cause of death among teens and is a serious problem for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) youth. It is estimated that 30-40% of LGBT teens will attempt suicide at least once, and unfortunately, some of them will succeed (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health). In 2007 I was asked by the Youth Suicide Prevention Program (YSPP) to start an LGBT component for the organization. I created OUTLoud in an attempt to reduce the rate of suicide among LGBT youth in Washington State. OUTLoud is the only organization of its kind operating in Washington.
Part of the reason I do this work is because I remember all too well my own teen years. I remember the fear of people discovering who I really was, a lesbian, and hiding the most important parts of me. I remember being bullied, and those memories help fuel me through this work.
In general, LGBT youth suicide prevention is not viewed as importantly as it should be. OUTLoud saves lives. We provide training throughout King County and beyond for free. This includes much-needed education about LGBT youth and the issues they face. People need to know this information, but they must also remember to celebrate these youth because many of them are survivors and are resilient and will triumph. They aren't just numbers on a page.
We provide public education and training that focuses on not only LGBT youth suicide, but also depression, and self-harm, bullying, and bias-based harassment.
The three major training segments OUTLoud offers are:
- "You Are Not Alone" peer to peer training.
- "LGBT Youth Suicide: The Facts." Training provided for youth serving organizations, schools, etc. The training educates adults about the risk and protective factors for this group of youth, intervention, and how to increase support for LGBT youth, thereby reducing their risk.
- "Bullying Prevention = Suicide Prevention." A three-part curriculum that focuses on what schools can do, what families can do, and what community partners can do to reduce the rates of bullying and how to properly intervene when bullying occurs. It also educates about the links between bullying and bias-based harassment and negative mental outcomes, including depression and suicide.
If you are interested in learning more about OUTLoud, visit us at www.YSPP.org. If you are an LGBT teen and in need of immediate help, call 1-800-273-TALK or 1-866-4-U-TREVOR.