This story originally appeared in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s 2020 Annual Report. Read more Volunteer Spotlight Stories, and watch videos of each volunteer sharing their experiences.
Suicide prevention is important to me because I want to be a voice for people who don’t have that voice.
I know what it’s like to be a queer kid growing up feeling different in school: struggling with their feelings, and not knowing what their identity is or how to process the feelings they’re experiencing. It can be extremely isolating, and really easy to feel alone. When I found AFSP, it was an opportunity for me to be a beacon of hope: a warrior and an advocate for people who really need that.
I’m passionate about research. So in my chapter in Central Texas, we arranged to have our first Research Connection program, which brings thought leaders in the world of suicide prevention research to local communities to speak on a topic that is relevant to their expertise and to that community. In our case, Dr. Steven Russell spoke to our local audience on how to reduce suicide risk in LGBTQ+ youth. A really groundbreaking, lightbulb moment was when Dr. Russell shared that simply by calling a transgender child by their chosen name, it can drastically reduce suicide risk with that child. You could almost hear a pin drop in that room. Even small facts like that can have a massive impact on our communities, and change someone’s mindset.
You could almost hear a pin drop in that room.
But we aren’t just doing Research Connections for the queer community. For instance, we’ve just scheduled one on the topic of reinforcing resilience in youth, with Dr. Jennifer Hughes from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
I consider my experience with AFSP to be a joyful and triumphant journey. I feel like it’s my mission to bring hope, joy and understanding into people’s lives through the work we do in our chapter, and beyond.
Watch Bradley share his story
Volunteer Bradley Balandis talks about bringing greater understanding about suicide prevention research to his community through AFSP’s Research Connection program. Learn more about the science of suicide.