Pridelines Youth Services had their 2nd annual suicide-prevention vigil for LGBTQ youths who struggle with issues related to suicide. The group met last week at Miami Beach Community Church.
According to a 2010 Task Force report, LGBTQ youths are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. This is why Pridelines develops programs to empower LGBTQ youth. It is the only organization in South Florida that provides services exclusively to these youths.
The brainchild behind the suicide vigil is Alex Febres. Febres, 20, was teased and bullied in high school. “I needed something like Pridelines, and this is my way of giving back,” he said. “With suicide, everyone is affected. It’s a chain reaction that effects everyone in its wake.” Febres also mentions why everyone in the organization was wearing purple at the event. “Purple unifies us. It signals to other youths that there are a lot of people here for them.”
Rose Fryer and Sean Oliver arrived to the event early. Fryer’s son was found dead in his New York City apartment at the age of 25. His death is still considered “unknown,” although Fryer suspects he died as a result of his sexuality.
This vigil comes on the heels of the recent suicide of Jamey Rodenmeyer of Buffalo, New York. Rodenmeyer was a 14-year-old boy who blogged about being suicidal due to being incessantly bullied at school. He was found dead outside his home in an apparent suicide. Rodenmeyer regularly posted about being bullied at school and how people would launch gay insults at him.
As the crowd burgeoned at Pridelines’s vigil, the diversity of the participants widened. Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, was also present. At around 7:30 p.m., people lit up their candles, held up signs, and walked peacefully down the whole stretch of Lincoln Road. Once at the end, Jessica Lam, Pridelines Program Facilitator, made the observation that “thousands of people have now been touched by us tonight and our message. Just think how many others would be touched by this issue if others did the same.”
Visit Pridelines.org to learn more about the organization.