Op-Ed: Lifelines help prevent teen suicides
Martha is an 18-year-old Latina college student from La Puente. She studies part-time and works part-time to support herself and her family. As the first in her family to attend college, she is a great source of pride for her loved ones. Yet, had a concerned friend not asked Martha if she was OK, we could be telling a very different story.
Martha went through a stage of darkness when she came to terms with her sexuality at age 15. She felt confused, fearful, guilty, sad, and lonely, as many LGBTQ youth do. “I felt like I was doing something wrong, so I did not want to face anyone,” she said. Martha isolated herself, avoiding social and family events. She turned to alcohol for comfort and to suppress her reality and feelings. When she finally did tell her family, she was rejected. This devastated her. She thought there was no hope for her future. It was then that she considered suicide.
But out of this darkness came a light in the form of a close friend, who reached out to her, understood her and supported her. Drawing on her own experiences, this friend recommended she seek mental health services, which were available at no cost at her high school. Seeing a trained clinician allowed Martha to reflect on who she was and who she wanted to be. She learned how to better communicate with her family, whose involvement in therapy was critical and brought her hope for her future. She says that anyone who may be struggling with self-identity and mental health-related issues should speak up, find help and get professional assistance for the sake of themselves and their family.