CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses self harm and mental health. If you are contemplating suicide or having suicidal thoughts, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.
Jamel Myles was only 9 when he passed away by suicide last week. According to his mother, the Denver boy had just come out to her over the summer and, prior to his death, he’d been extensively bullied at school for his sexuality.
Unfortunately, cases like Jamel are not uncommon. According to the National LGBTI Health Alliance, LGBTQI young Australians between the ages of 16 and 27 are five times more likely to attempt suicide, compared to the general population. Trans Australians over the age of 18 are nearly 11 times more likely.
2017 was obviously a milestone in terms of equal rights and visibility, yet this milestone came at a heavy price for many. Phone counselling service Q-Life, for example, recorded more than a 20 per cent increase in calls during the plebiscite, reported The Canberra Times.
This is why 2018’s Wear it Purple day, an annual event advocating for the celebration of, and the eradication of bullying based on, gender and sexuality diversity, is more important than ever.
Wear it Purple day is a celebration of rainbow youth, and involves coming together in solidarity for those who are still struggling or silenced by fear.
Happy #WearitPurple day! You don't have to be out & loud, but know that it's okay to be you, & you are not alone ???????? If you need to talk to someone, in Australia, Kids Helpline is free & confidential for 5-25year olds – call 1800 55 1800 (Adults, please call Lifeline: 13 11 14) pic.twitter.com/XyBCKzU5zj
— Jordi Kerr (@WritingJordi) August 30, 2018
Puberty and adolescence is a tough time as is, let alone feeling like you may feel alienated just because of who you are.
But through representation and visibility from the LGBTQI community and their allies, we create discussion. And through discussion, we show others that being an LGBTQI kid in Australia is nothing to be scared of. After all, in many instances, we only fear what we don’t understand, or aren’t exposed to.
We also create a safer place for children who feel like they need to talk to someone, because for every group of kids out there, there’s one sitting in silence with butterflies in their stomach, not knowing what to do.
And every child deserves to feel heard, appreciated and loved for who they are.
One life lost is one too many.
Check out some more highlights below from an incredible day of love and acceptance. Happy Wear It Purple day, Australia! I know that I would have benefited greatly from a day like this at my school, when I was a struggling teen.
20GAYTEEN shines on.
— Fr Rod Bower (@FrBower) August 30, 2018
Happy #WearItPurple day! To the millions of queer youth out there figuring yourselves out, know that you are valued, you are worthy and you are amazing. Everything will make sense the more you embrace who you are. Love yourselves because you are ALL perfect. ???? pic.twitter.com/ihiBLYv02f
— Harry Cook (@HarryCook) August 30, 2018
We’re still at Hyde Park, Sydney for @WearitPurple Day! We’ll be here until 3pm today so come say hello. Here’s a look at the event so far… #WearItPurple #WearItPurpleDay2018 pic.twitter.com/8IS0qAQmll
— NSW Police (@nswpolice) August 31, 2018
Wear it Purple wants young people everywhere to know that they have the right to be proud of who they are!
Sex, sexuality or gender identity does not change this.
Wear it Purple Day is… https://t.co/HHfFVxmXx1
— ????????????️????⚝Dax⚝????️???????????? (@Daxasaur) August 31, 2018
Image: Getty / Kelly Bowden