Community News & Features New online service to tackle suicide in the LGBTQ+ community. “LGBTQ+ people are being left out of the conversation... It’s time for action on suicide in the LGBTQ+ community” LGBT HERO has launched a new online service aimed at reducing the high numbers of LGBTQ+ people affected by mental health issues and dying by suicide. The new service, OutLife.org.uk, provides a platform where LGBTQ+ people can seek information and support while coming together to create personal and social change. OutLife also provides a service for LGBTQ+ people to talk, share and support one another in a trusted, non-judgemental environment. Ian Howley, Chief Executive of LGBT HERO, explains why the service is so needed: “I know what the challenges are as an LGBTQ+ person. I went through my own battles with my sexuality and identity and nearly lost my life three times. It wasn’t until I hit my mid 20s that I realised this is common for lots of LGBTQ+ people. This made me angry. “There is a silent epidemic in our community and almost nothing is being done. When the media focuses on the issue of suicide, LGBTQ+ people are forgotten. Our stories are ignored and, when you consider that we are up to five times more likely to be affected by suicide, this is unacceptable. The time has come for action on suicide in the LGBTQ+ community. This is why we set up OutLife; a platform where people can do something about the health and social inequalities we face, while increasing public awareness of the large numbers of LGBTQ+ people dying by suicide every year.” LGBT HERO carried out a needs assessment asking LGBTQ+ people what support services they have recently sought online. Of the 1500 responses, 85% said they looked for information about depression, anxiety and general wellbeing. 57% of the respondents said they sought suicide prevention advice, while 39% said they looked for LGBTQ+ peer-support services. “Many of the people who responded to our needs assessment stated that they had to site-hop for information. Especially lesbian and trans people.” adds Howley. “There is a basic lack of LGBTQ+ specific information or a platform for them to come together to create change in our community. LGBTQ+ people still face prejudice, homophobia and hate crimes. Trans people’s rights are being debated daily. Young LGBTQ+ people are being denied basic sex and relationship education. Yet some politicians still think it’s OK for LGBTQ+ people to be hidden from society. In response we developed OutLife and through this platform we will provide LGBTQ+ people with trusted information, resources and campaigns that feature people just like us. We’re providing a space through our forums for LGBTQ+ people to be angry, get motivated and form a collective response in the fight against the health and social inequalities we face. If we don’t tackle these issues LGBTQ+ people’s mental wellbeing will continue to suffer, and when we don’t look after our mental wellbeing suicide can follow. OutLife aims to stop LGBTQ+ people from reaching this level of crisis by providing LGBTQ+ people of all ages and backgrounds the information and support they deserve. Ian concludes, “This is just the beginning for OutLife. We’re in the very early stages and have a long way to go but we are asking the people to get behind this project. Let’s all work together for a happier, healthier community while laying the foundations for future LGBTQ+ generations. If we want to end LGBTQ+ suicide then we can’t rely on others, we need to take charge and do this ourselves. To get involved with OutLife, visit www.OutLife.org.uk/projecthappy To visit the peer-support service visit www.OutLife.org.uk/forums. To support OutLife, you can donate here: www.OutLife.org.uk/donate.