An Academy Award-winning short film inspires suicide prevention resources.
By Adriana Ruiz
The first national 24-hour suicide prevention hotline for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, The Trevor Project, provides counseling, resources and education for young people who are contemplating suicide.
According to the project’s website, its vision is “a future where the possibilities, opportunities and dreams are the same for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The Trevor Project was inspired by a character in the Academy Award-winning short film Trevor, the story of a 13-year-old boy contemplating suicide after being shunned by classmates because of his sexual orientation.
Wes Nemenz, senior education manager at The Trevor Project, said the 24-hour crisis hotline started in 1998 on the day HBO premiered the short film. He said counselors received many phone calls the first day and now answer between 35,000 and 36,000 calls per year.
Nemenz said the hotline started during a time when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community issues were acknowledged.
In addition, The Trevor Project offers online resources such as TrevorChat, an instant messaging service; TrevorText, a text messaging service; Ask Trevor, a question and answer service; and TrevorSpace, a social networking site.
Nemenz said the project works with counselors who are trained to listen to those struggling with sexual orientation.
“Our approach is to listen and be that safe person that they may lack in their lives,” Nemenz said.
He said the best way to help someone contemplating suicide is to sit down and express concern for their well-being. He said although it is tough and scary asking someone if they are planning to kill themselves, it may be the best way to start helping them.
“Be that friend who is not afraid to ask that question,” Nemenz said. “Intervene in someone’s life and then be able to connect them to a resource.”
Someone contemplating suicide is likely to exhibit red flags, such as feeling unimportant, trapped and hopeless. Other signs include chronic drug and alcohol use, according to The Trevor Project website.
Nemenz said the biggest red flag would be if someone has planned a “where, when and how.” He said if someone has a detailed plan or put a lot of time, effort and detail into their plan, it is time to intervene.
The Trevor Project also offers resources, such as the Coming Out as You constellation, a printable star-shaped guide on the personal pros and cons of coming out.
The constellation asks users to list their support network, the environment into which they are coming out and their sexual orientation or interests. It also offers self-care to stay healthy and resources to help cope with coming out.
Nemenz described the constellation as “a pocket-sized resource that can help you navigate your own coming-out experience in a safe, thoughtful way.”
He said coming out can be confusing, especially for youth, but the constellation can help narrow all of the external noise and get to the bigger picture.
For more information, visit www.thetrevorproject.org
The 24-hour suicide prevention hotline is 1-866-488-7386.