Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 20. LGBTQ+ youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth. In addition, LGBTQ+ youth are almost five times more likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual and cisgender youth.
There were many times I contemplated taking my own life. I am an Arab-American with immigrant parents from Jordan. I lived my teenage years and young adult life in fear that I would be killed if I told anyone in my family I was gay. I felt the shame I would bring to my family was unbearable, so in my mind, instead of letting them know I was gay it would be better that I take my own life. Arabs in the Middle East are often jailed and even killed if they identity as gay. I share my story in hopes of helping others live in their truth.
I know it can be difficult. Not only am I gay, I also have bipolar disorder. I am fighting two stigmas both viewed in a negative light. I had a choice to make: Do l live to be myself or die as someone else? I chose to be true to myself and embrace who I am. It's not easy when there are many people that try to dismiss me and make me feel as if I don't matter.
What helps me get through the days when I feel down and out of place is thinking of my nieces and nephews and realize I am an example of someone who has faced adversity and didn't give up. I want to give them hope and with my courage be a positive example so when they face obstacles they have the strength to get through it. When it comes to suicide, people feel the only way to escape the pain is to end their life. I am here to tell you that is not the answer.
I had moments in my life when the pain was so bad that I thought suicide was my only option. I have learned nothing lasts forever and there is a quote that says "This too shall pass," which resonates with my perspective in life. So on days I am down, I remember it's only momentary. Life is worth living no matter how bad things seem or how much suffering you endure. Brighter days are ahead.
When I'm feeling down, here are some things I do to feel better. I need to feed my soul with laughter, and I do that through my friends. There is a funny friend in my group and just the thought of his name makes me laugh. I call him and just find myself laughing at his stories. I watch reruns of Will & Grace and Karen Walker makes me laugh so hard that I forget about my sadness. Slowly but surely, I start to feel better and get through another day.
There are some days that are not easy, but you have to pull through because someone out there needs and loves you. Always remember that your life has purpose. Don't give up, be strong, and find your happiness. Everyone is on their own personal journey. Think of what you want to accomplish and work toward that goal. Be kind to yourself and know you are not alone.
There is no shame in seeking professional help. Life is precious and happiness is something you work on getting. You have to be content with what you have and where you are in life or you will never be happy. This doesn't mean you don't strive for more if you are not where you want to be. Be brave, be kind, educate yourself and always carry yourself with integrity.
David Rabadi is the author of How I Lost My Mind and Found Myself. For more information, visit DavidRabadi.com .
Note: This column originally appeared in The Advocate, at www.advocate.com/commentary/2020/9/10/gay-bipolar-man-ive-learned-live-suicidal-thoughts .