As written by Drew Brothers himself.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages ten to twenty-four, and the rate of suicide attempts is four times greater for lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth—even higher for transgender youth. These statistics are horrifying to me as a young gay man, because I know how painfully challenging it can be to come to terms with who you truly are. I understand worrying about whether or not your employer will fire you, your landlord will evict you, your friends will disassociate with you, or even if your family will disown you simply because of who you are or whom you love. All of these concerns and the alarming facts about suicide related to LGBT+ youth have been my motivation to make a difference for my community and on Butler University’s campus.
Over the course of my three years at Butler, I have devoted my time to serving the University’s chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Butler’s organization is a charter of the AFSP’s Indiana chapter. The AFSP’s mission is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. On a national level, the AFSP funds scientific research, offers educational programs for professional organizations, and also promotes policies and legislation that impact suicide prevention. As a first-year student and a sophomore, my service with the AFSP was reflected in raising monetary funds for the organization’s annual “Out of the Darkness” Campus Walk event. During this event, teams and individual walkers come together to raise money for all of the education, advocacy, and research that the AFSP does nationally. However, after I came out as openly gay at the end of my sophomore year, I decided to further my involvement with the organization and joined the executive board as a vice-president of fundraising for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Recognizing the impact that suicide has had on LGBT+ youth, and the community at large, I wanted to use my visibility as an openly-gay student to do my part to prevent suicide and help end the stigma surrounding mental health. At the annual “Out of the Darkness” Campus Walk, which took place on March 26 of this year, members of the AFSP’s Butler chapter spoke about why they were participating in the walk. Each member wore a different color of beads around their neck, exemplifying their personal connection to suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Here is what I said to the crowd of 200 students and Indianapolis community members on that day: ‘My name is Drew Brothers, and I am wearing green beads, which represents my personal struggle that I had with depression and suicidal thoughts from the time I was a sophomore in high school, up until the end of my sophomore year at Butler. Suicide is the leading cause of death of LGBT+ youth nationally. I want anyone out there who feels different, and alone, to know that I know how you feel, and there is help out there. Things will get easier, people’s minds will change, and you should be alive to see it. — It gets better, and that is why I am walking here today’.
Too often, topics like suicide and mental health are not talked about. The AFSP hopes to bring these topics “Out of the Darkness” and reduce the suicide rate 20% by the year 2025. As the president of the AFSP’s Butler chapter next year, I will strive to continue to do my part, because I know my contributions to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention have made life-saving differences.