Leelah Alcorn was a transgender teen in Ohio who died by suicide on December 28, 2014. Her death made national headlines: she left a very public suicide note and both the media and her family have continually misgendered her in their coverage, all of which has caused quite a ruckus. LGBTQ activists are mobilizing with Leelah's Law to ban conversion therapy; Dan Savage is making harmful comments on Twitter; Leelah's family continues to insist that they loved their son (not their daughter); but, in the world of suicide awareness and prevention, things have been mostly silent.
This is a teachable moment. Yes, trans* issues are very much at play here, but this is an opportunity for us to talk about social media's role in suicide prevention, journalism's role in suicide prevention, how suicide affects the LGBTQ community (especially the trans* and gender non-conforming folks within in), and much, much more.
I wrote a blog for The Huffington Post about Leelah, and I appeared on HuffPost Live's QueerView with Josh Zepps just yesterday (below—my segment starts at 8:23), but I'm looking forward to hearing and engaging more with this community—attempt survivors, loss survivors, and clinicians. Let's use this loss to fix society, and not just in the ways she requested when she left us.
How can we circumvent these losses?