HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A round table discussion with a young adult who attempted suicide, a parent whose son took his own life, and two clinicians.
An open, honest dialogue, started by Beau Triba, a 21-year-old who is transgender.
“I grew up in an unsafe home environment which led to increased suicidal ideation as a child,” said Triba. “When I was 15, I had a suicide attempt.”
Triba isn’t alone.
According to the World Health Organization, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds.
“There was no treatment given to me, no clinical treatment. I didn’t go to the hospital,” remembered Triba who was homeschooled but began making important connections at community college.
Even so, the suicidal thoughts continued.
“When I was 18, I had another suicide attempt. This was very tough,” said the young adult with emotion. “I wanted relief from this pain even if it was for one second.”
“Isolation is gasoline on the fire of depression,” said Dr. Laura Saunders, a psychologist at the Institute of Living.
She said transgender youth, in general, are struggling and embody risk factors.
“They have additional vulnerabilities. They have vulnerabilities around social stigma, vulnerabilities around feeling different and that can add to isolation,” said Saunders.
But for some people, that can mean emotional isolation, sometimes difficult to see.
“Brian was very social, very popular, friends, family, strangers, he could connect with anybody,” said Ann Dagle.
Her son, Brian, took his own life when he was nineteen years old, almost eleven years ago.
He struggled with anxiety and depression…but no one expected this.
“The summer he came back from school after freshman year, I noticed he had lost a lot of weight, was pale, something was off with him, a little antsy,” she said. “I saw him in October, we lost him in November.”
Dagle now runs Brian’s Healing Hearts Center for Hope and Healing in Niantic, offering support groups for all kinds of losses, including for parents who lost children to suicide.
“In Connecticut, we have zero dollars for suicide prevention, zero dollars,” said Dagle who is working to change that through her work with the Connecticut Suicide Advisory Board, a collaboration of hospitals, state agencies, and survivors of loss, offering a multitude of resources.
WATCH: The video below is the full roundtable discussion
“I often ask myself, ‘If there were conversations or programs out there would my life be different?’ I don’t know but I would like to think so. We’re making a difference, we have a long way to go but we’re beginning to make headway,” said Dagle.
“We’re seeing a lot of youth that are struggling and a lot of the factors are the ripple effects of the pandemic,” said Patty Graham, a clinician at the Institute of Living, who partners with families when there are safety concerns.
She made an extremely important point: “One of the biggest things we do with families is counseling on access to lethal means.”
That means locking-up guns and even over-the-counter medications.
“The more we can reduce access to lethal means, the more we can helps the individual that’s in a very dark place get through it then find some help and hope on the other side,” said Saunders.
Triba was hospitalized after the second attempt and received clinical treatment which this young adult describes as a turning point.
After much work, Triba took a test and is now a Recovery Support Specialist with the institute.
“Talk to children as if they are people because they are and they deserve to be treated with respect,” they said.
“There are ways to minimize your pain without ending your life,” said Saunders.
Saunders says the bottom line is talking about suicide – erasing the stigma – is the key to improving the current landscape.
“It’s really about reducing the shame and opening up those discussions,” she said.
Tuesday, we hear more about transgender youth and other young adults who have really struggled since the start of the pandemic.
If you or someone you know are in need of help, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or click here.