My interview with Trevor Project CEO Abbe Land
Christmastime may be a time for families to get together but there may be some family members who are feeling anything but holiday cheer.
There are plenty of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth who are suffering and that suffering could be a matter of life and death.
That’s why The Trevor Project, the leading organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services in the US, is available 24-7 to let these youths know that they are not alone.
I recently spoke with The Trevor Project’s CEO Abbe Land about the help they offer and about what is at the core of so much of the suffering.
‘Family acceptance is so important,’ Land says. ‘Suicide is the third largest cause of death among young people. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and questioning youth are three or four more times at risk and you come from a family that isn’t accepting, it increases your risk up to eight percent.’
‘Family acceptance is so important and I think what parents have to remember is this is your child,’ she adds. ‘This is your child, the person we love and you need to love them just the way they are.’
Land cautions that LGBTQ youth still struggle with self-acceptance even as there are some advancements in equality such as gay marriage in more US states and the end of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
‘The tide is turning but the reality is it is still very hard for a young person,’ Land says. ‘We get so many calls from the South where there are still so many people who are not accepting. We get calls from California and New York as well. It is still hard for a lot of young people, there’s still a lot of non-acceptance of people feeling that you don’t belong.’
‘It’s so sad because we know you’re perfect just the way you are,’ Land adds. ‘It does send a great message to young folks that marriage equality is happening. There’s a lot of positive things there. But when you’re in school and your friend doesn’t want to talk to you anymore because you told him you were gay, that’s hard. So we’re here to help because the reality is that sooner or later, your friend might come along. But right now, we’re here to help you get through that.’
When The Trevor Project was founded in 1998, it was in contact with youth through its telephone hotline. Since then, online services have been introduced making it easier to have contact.
They currently offer Trevor Chat four nights a week.
‘By the spring we’re going to have it seven nights a week so matter what, a young person can talk to us,’ Land says. ‘And then we’re going to do Trevor Texts in the spring – you can just text away and somebody at Trevor’s going to answer your call. If you feel bad or just have a question. Reaching out is one of the bravest things you can do. It’s hard, it’s hard for everyone to say, ‘I need a little help’ but please do it because we’re there and once you do that, your future opens up.’
If you are a youth who is feeling alone, confused or in crisis, please call The Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 for immediate help. You can also write Dear Trevor with any non-time sensitive questions.
If you do not reach a counselor in a timely manner, or receive an error message, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the GLBT National Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-PRIDE (1-800-246-7743).