The Trevor Project reports that LGBTQ youth are five times more likely to have attempted suicide in comparison to heterosexual youth. In the Quad Cities, the LGBTQ resource center Clock Inc aims to make a positive impact on youth mental health, which Chase Norris, the organization’s executive director, said is crucial during the pandemic.
“The suicide statistic rates were already through the roof. Since COVID-19, those have tripled because of the lack of social connection and support with one another. And the isolation, that’s been the worst,”Norris said.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-34-year-olds. Those statistics increase for LGBTQ individuals, along with other challenges.
“I think almost every youth that comes in our doors has experienced bullying from their peers,”
A reality that Clock Inc intern Hanna Seago knows far too well.
“I had to quit going to public school and move to online school,” Seago said. “I was just so scared to attend regular school a gay kid because you never know when you’re going to be harassed for it.”
She says it ruined her self confidence and mental health.
“I didn’t want to be called names or just looked down upon,” Seago said.
A situation Norris has seen countless times.
“School is supposed to be a safe place for kids. Often times it’s not in today’s world. And that kid is not going to do well in school if they are fearing getting bullied,” Norris said.
Seago has found support at Clock Inc.
“I was able to like build up everything that I lost from leaving public school. I was able to make new friends, I was able to find like a support group that I never had before,” Seago said.
One of those friends is Orion Olson, who says he was also bullied.
“I realized real quick from growing up in Davenport that different is usually shunned at,” Olson said.
Olson said people often discriminate against LGBTQ youth, so he appreciates the community he has found at the center.
“Just the thought of a safer place where I’m not the only gay person there, or I’m not the only trans kid there, where I can really be accepted,” Olson said.
Norris said support is crucial for kids not to lose hope, and maintain good mental health in this difficult time.
“They’re going to isolate themselves and that’s when mental health hardcore is going to take over and that could lead to, poor, impulsive decisions and it shouldn’t get to that point, ever,” Norris said.
To learn more about Clock Inc, you can visit their website here.