Saturday, February 03, 2007

A tragic ending for two Rachel's

As a young girl I once wrote that there were secrets in my life that I was sure I would take with me to my grave. Thank goodness I had friends who helped me transition from that secret life to the authentic life I've been living for the past 30 years.

When I read about the two young Maryland girls found dead in a secluded area in West Virginia it broke my heart. There are still many questions to be answered about their deaths, but one thing seems very clear to me -- they were in love.

Rachel Smith, 16, and Rachel Crites, 18, were found side by side in a car parked on a remote trail near the West Virginia border. It was apparent the two did not want to be found.

Officials called the deaths apparent suicides, as there were no signs of trauma.

Troy Crites, father of the elder teenager, described how he had examined his daughter's diary and found a disturbing entry that alluded to her death.
"Wherever I end up laying, whether buried or cremated, I want to stay with my true love, buried next to her," it said. "This is my choice. I'm sorry."
We will probably never know why these two girls made this tragic decision, but we do know that lesbian and gay youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people.

Our society needs to wake up and realize there is nothing wrong, or immoral, about being lesbian or gay. Some people have brown hair, some are left handed and some are gay. And whether or not a person believes they were "born gay", or made a conscious choice to be lesbian or gay, there is nothing wrong with it.

If you are a teen and questioning whether or not you are lesbian or gay there are people you can talk to. Here are just a few of the resources available to you:

OutProud, The National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Youth

Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL)

National Youth Advocacy Coalition

National Queer Student Coalition

Advocates for Youth

GenderPAC

For parents who think their child might be lesbian or gay, there are resources for you, too:

PFLAG National

4 comments:

newscoma said...

This breaks my heart.
I'm so thankful that I got through the "secret" stuff.
Goosebumps ran up me.
Sending you some good thoughts and glad that I have met you for a random lunch.

BAC said...

I'm glad we met too. Thanks for the good thoughts!


BAC

Jeffrey Nelson said...

SMYAL CALLS FOR RAISED AWARENESS OF SUICIDE RISK FOR LGBTQ YOUTH
WASHINGTON, DC – The Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) today called on youth service professionals to be aware of the elevated suicide risk among young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning of their sexual orientation or gender identity (LGBTQ). The statement comes after last week’s discovery of the bodies of two Montgomery County, MD teenagers who apparently took their own lives. Todd Peterson, Chair of the SMYAL Board of Directors, issued the following statement: “On behalf of the SMYAL Board, staff, and volunteers, I wish to express deepest condolences to the family and friends of Rachel Crites and Rachel Smith. This tragic loss demonstrates the importance for all youth workers to be vigilant for any signs of suicidal ideation, attempted suicide and depression in the young people they serve.
“SMYAL urges our region’s youth service professionals to be aware of signs of suicidal behavior in all adolescents. While we do not presume to understand the thoughts, feelings and causes of this tragedy, social science research continues to show that LGBTQ young people are at significantly greater risk than their peers for attempted suicide and other behaviors which may lead to suicide.
“For the sake of the lives of our young people, all youth workers must be particularly sensitive to the needs of LGBTQ youth and aware of the increased risks they face, including suicide, as well as other mental health issues, substance abuse, homelessness as well as physical and verbal abuse.”
# # #

About SMYAL
The Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) is the only Washington, DC metro area service organization solely dedicated to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Founded in 1984, SMYAL is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization.
SMYAL’s mission is to promote and support self-confident, healthy, productive lives for LGBTIQ youth ages 13-21 as they journey from adolescence into adulthood. To fulfill our mission, we focus our commitment and energy on five focus areas: (1) Life Skills & Leadership Development, (2) Counseling & Support, (3) Health & Wellness Education, (4) Safe Social Activities, and (5) Community Outreach and Education.
SMYAL also provides programs for LGBTQ youth in participating Maryland public schools and conducts LGBTQ youth cultural competency trainings to teachers, emergency housing personnel, social workers, and other youth service professionals across the region.

Resources for LGBTQ Young People and Youth Service Professionals
Youth are always able to refer themselves to SMYAL’s programs. Youth interested in learning about activities at SMYAL’s youth center can visit http://www.smyal.org/calendar/calendar.php , E-mail youthcenter@smyal.org or contact Victor Price, Youth Services and Activities Manager, at (202) 546-5940 ext. 107.
School counselors and social workers who wish to refer a youth to SMYAL’s individual counseling program may do so by contacting either of SMYAL’s Mental Health Counselors:

Sean LeSane
sean.lesane@smyal.org
(202) 546-5940 ext. 117 Xanthia Johnson
xanthia.johnson@smyal.org
(202) 546-5940 ext. 106
LGBTQ young people who are contemplating suicide should call the Trevor Helpline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (488-7386), a national, toll-free 24-hour suicide prevention helpline for LGBTQ young people.
Youth service professionals who wish to schedule LGBTQ youth cultural competency training for their staff should contact Christopher Lane, Acting Director of Programs, at christopher.lane@smyal.org or (202) 546-5940 ext. 103

BAC said...

Thanks for sharing this.


BAC