Suicide is a major global health problem, with someone dying every 40 seconds according to the World Health Organization. It’s especially prevalent in my home-state Utah, where it is the leading cause of death for people aged 10-17. Tragically, many of these suicides are LGBTQ teens, and religion is often a contributing factor. In 2015, the Mormon church excommunicated anyone acting on their homosexuality and barred children of gay parents from joining their church. This kind of teaching can have severe consequences for mental health, as it promotes hate and intolerance.
Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons has spoken out about this issue, expressing guilt over his religion’s harmful teachings. He said, “To be gay is beautiful and right and perfect; to tell someone they need to change their inner-most being is setting up someone for an unhealthy life and unhealthy foundation.” It’s heartbreaking to think about young people feeling guilty and condemned for who they are.
If you know someone struggling with mental health, please reach out to them and offer a listening ear. If you see a teenager who is having a difficult time, be a friend to them, encourage and love them, and remind them that they are perfect just as they are and that they have a place in this world. Validate their feelings and let them know that you understand the pain they are going through. Together, we can work to reduce the devastating rate of suicide and support those in need.
Place your hand over your heart, can you feel it? That is called purpose. You’re alive for a reason so don’t ever give up.