Yes, Suicide Is a Gay Issue

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, so I wish to share my thoughts and honor those who chose death when the (gay) rainbow was not enough.

Studies have shown that rates of suicide attempts and suicide completion are higher among LGBTQ youth than among the general youth population. I think that it is time that we put an end to this statistic.

My book, Our Naked Lives: Essays From Gay Italian-American Men, was dedicated, in part, to "those wonderful souls who chose suicide when the world was simply too much. I respect your choices, but you must know that that was not your only choice. You are not in heaven because there is none; you live on in the memories of those whom you left behind."

The following is an adapted excerpt from my essay "This Is What I Remember," which appears in the book.

* * * * *

I remember everything, yet I remember nothing. I remember more bad than good. I remember more misery, pain, and suffering than happiness. I remember the loneliness and discomfort of growing up gay in a heterosexual world.

This is what I remember.

This is what I remember.


I remember the constant thoughts of wanting to commit suicide, or, more so, the constant thoughts of not wanting to exist. My attempts were pathetic and cliché: trying to swallow a lot of aspirin, holding the razor blade to my wrist, sticking my head in the oven, tying a rope to a pipe. But I was never brave enough to succeed.


The blood mixes
through the streams of veins

blue lines
decorating the skin

when cut and tasted
the juice is sweet

Life is blended
through the body

and when sliced
life is drained
and the problems
are peeled away

no more pain and suffering
Death is the only way


My youth was consumed by loneliness, feelings of not belonging, and thinking of ways to kill myself. I experienced many dark nights of the soul. And television saved me. Although I read a lot, I looked to TV for the noise to comfort me and make me feel less lonesome. Reading is a solitary act, not always the best thing for a lonely person. As a teenager I was alone many Friday and Saturday nights because my single-parent mother worked as a waitress, and my teenage sister was either working too or out with her friends. Those nights, I was at home by myself, sitting on the sofa, or lying in bed, watching TV shows. The Golden Girls -- not so much the TV show, but those four extraordinary women -- got me through many lonely Saturday nights. I was a gay boy, and I knew it, and I yearned to have friends like those four elderly women.


As I walk through the land,
I'm all alone.
There's no one holding my hand.
People can be so cold.
There's no one to hold.
I'm all alone.
No one cares,
But everyone stares.
I wish someone knew me.
Then someone would love me.
I'm all alone,
As I walk through the land.
I'm all alone,
No one to hold my hand.

Identity Crisis #1

I remember my first identity crisis. I hated being me practically my entire life. I hated being Italian-American practically my entire life. I hated the negative stereotypes associated with being Italian-American; I did not want to admit that I was an American of Italian descent because of such negative stereotypes and images. As a young child I wanted to change my last name to "Carson," or something else "non-Italian." I was embarrassed and ashamed of who I am and where I come from. My identity was in a crisis, and it would not be until many years later, in my adulthood, after reading much about Italian Americans, written by Italian Americans, that my identity crisis would come to an end. Literature has amazing powers that can change the lives of the readers; literature saved my life.

Identity Crisis #2

I remember my second identity crisis. Later in life I would come to realize that my ethnicity is not the only aspect of my life that marginalizes me and makes me not "fit in." As a homosexual male, my sexual orientation also marginalizes me, making me feel like an outcast, making me feel less-than-human. And it must be stated, and known, that with its conservative and traditional ways of thinking, the Italian-American community -- my own community -- has not always been accepting and understanding of my sexual orientation. Ironically, one marginalized community marginalizes -- even minimizes and oppresses -- another marginalized community.

When I was a young child in elementary school -- ironically, I cannot remember the exact age -- I had a difficult time relating to the other students. I knew that I did not "fit in." I was not the only American of Italian descent, but I was one of the few in a school with mostly Jewish-American and Irish-American children. And of course, I befriended the other three to five children who were also Italian-American. We formed a close bond.

* * * * *

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or visit You can also visit The Trevor Project or call them at 1-866-488-7386.