In the months after Cass, who lives in Austin, Texas, with their family, came out in July 2019, their mom watched their anxiety and depression get worse. In October, she and her husband found Cass unconscious and took them to the hospital. After that suicide attempt, she realized that Cass needed her acceptance. She started using Cass’ name and pronouns, and Cass said they see their mom as very accepting now.
Cass is a demi-boy, meaning they sometimes identify as a boy and sometimes as nonbinary, although mainly as masculine.
They no longer deal with suicidal thoughts, thanks in large part to a local trans and genderqueer youth support group, though they still grapple with thoughts of self-harm when their gender dysphoria is bad. They use distractions like lying with their dogs or making art when the self-harm urges are at a manageable level — and when those thoughts get bad, they talk with their mom.
For other trans and nonbinary kids dealing with suicidal thoughts, Cass stressed that reaching out for help really does make a difference.
“If you aren’t in a safe situation at home then find an accepting teacher or other adult that you can talk to,” they said.
Williams said that queer and trans youth experiencing suicidal thoughts should seek help and not give up on advocating for themselves — and that they should know their struggle does not mean there is something wrong with them or with their LGBTQ+ identity.
“There’s nothing wrong with you. Everything around you is messed up,” she said.
Supportive places for LGBTQ+ youth to talk about experiencing suicidal ideation can be found online, including at the Trevor Project’s website, said Price.
The Trevor Project also offers 24/7 crisis services at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678, said spokesperson Rob Todaro. LGBTQ+ youth can find peer support via TrevorSpace and more mental health resources on the organization’s website.
Goldberg said that family members and friends who want to help someone experiencing suicidal thoughts should explicitly tell that person that they are loved, that they’re important, that they make a difference, and that you’re there for them.
“Validate their humanity, and if need be, connect them to other supports and services, so that they get the support and the help that they need if they’re struggling,” she said.
AJ expects that suicidal thoughts may be part of his life long-term, although he has not since felt as low as he did in January. He started homeschooling to take some of the academic pressure off. Therapy, family support, going to LGBTQ+ youth groups and being able to vent to friends who know how to distract him from those negative thoughts have all helped, he said.
The family keeps a safety plan for AJ, who sees his therapist weekly and psychiatrist monthly — both of which have advised that he is ready to cut back his number of appointments due to how well he’s doing.
One way he tries to beat suicidal thoughts is by imagining his dream life as an adult — getting an apartment in Paris with cats and art. It’s because in his darkest time, it was hard for him to picture the future, let alone him existing in that future.
“Don’t die,” he said, speaking to other trans kids his age dealing with suicidal thoughts. “The future is going to be really gay, so don’t miss out on it.”
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