“LGBTQI youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth,” says The Trevor Project, which is an American nonprofit organization that focuses on suicide prevention among the LGBTQI community.
Suicide is one major factor of death among youth. Based on the data of The Trevor Project, queer youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times likely to have attempted suicide.
The hatred that comes from a family member tends to be the hardest to deal with and with our queer Iraqi youth having no support from the government, the pressure is even harder to handle.
Many of us have friends or family members from the LGBTQI community who are struggling. We hear them talking about how much they want to escape to another country where they feel safe enough to come out of the closet, marry their soul mates, and have kids, or simply just avoid being killed.
Some of us, however, have lost those friends who didn’t get any chance to feel heard or seen. Those friends took their own lives as a response to bullying, homophobia, abuse, and depression.
Suicide isn’t a joke, and people who think of committing suicide aren’t crazy or weak. LGBTQI people are at the highest risk for suicide when their family and friends know about their sexuality. When a family knows that their daughter or son is queer, forced marriage is one thing the family considers as a solution while other families choose honor killing if she was a female or abandonment if he was a male.
One of several painful deaths is the death of a young Iraqi girl named Tara. Tara was a victim of hatred and homophobia that made her take away her life when she was only 20 years old. Today, Kawthar, who was Tara’s close friend, tells us Tara’s story and she says, “Tara was only a college student when her life turned upside down. She was studying engineering and she was aiming to become a successful engineer. If she was still alive, she would have been 24 by now. Tara loved animals, especially birds, and her favorite colors were green and maroon. She enjoyed singing and reading books and she had big goals that she was aiming to achieve.
Tara was a lesbian and she was in a happy relationship with a girl that she was in love with. The two girls agreed on leaving Iraq, and they had everything planned. They agreed on everything including how to get out of Iraq, where to go, and when to leave but unfortunately, things did not go well.
Tara had a cousin who proposed to her multiple times but got rejected. That cousin knew that there was someone in Tara’s life, he just didn’t know that it was a girl. While Tara was busy planning her way out and living her daily life, the cousin thought it would be a good idea to hack Tara’s phone, read all her messages, and see all her pictures with her partner, then show everything to her parents and propose to her. He thought that doing so means that she won’t be able to reject him anymore.
That evil cousin got what he wanted. He hacked her phone, and indeed, Tara was with someone, but just not with a guy as the cousin expected. He did not hesitate to show everything to her parents who beat her up and thought about killing her. Her cousin, however, wanted things to go as he planned, so he proposed to her again and the family did not mind forcing her to get married to him this time. After a while of abuse and arguing, Tara got engaged to him.
The family made sure that Tara does not escape or run to someone for help so they took away her phone and locked her in the house. Tara could not ask anyone for help neither her girlfriend so what they did was waiting and hoping to find a solution.
It seemed that Tara had ideas going in her head other than finding a way out of that house. It seemed that the idea of death was actually bringing her peace. Few days before her wedding, Tara took away her life. And just like that, Tara was gone! I didn’t even know about her death, not until her sister told me. All I knew was that she preferred death over being touched by a man.
I remember in her last days, when we used to talk, Tara used to mention things like how much she loved me and how proud she was to know me. She used to tell me that there was nothing wrong with me and asked me to stay strong and not let our society destroy me. Also, she used to tell me about how exhausted she was feeling.
Unfortunately, back in Tara’s time, there was no organization inside the country that she or her girlfriend could have asked for help from and no one else would have been by their side. There wasn’t really much hope for the two because if there was, she would not have chosen death.
I never imagined that she would commit suicide so hearing about her death was really painful. I still I’ve not recovered from it until this day.
And the most annoying thing is that during all these years, I’ve not told anyone about her story because I too, don’t have a family that would love me if I tell them I’m lesbian. I had to keep her story a secret because if I tell people about it they would say things like she deserved what happened to her or that she was a bad person and a bad daughter. So I had to keep all sadness and anger inside and keep living as nothing happened.
Until today, I don’t know how I was able to pull myself out of that terrifying phase. All I can say is that it was a very hard time for me.
What I hope is that no one gets through what Tara got through and that we all keep in mind that we’ll die one day so let’s not rush it. Her soul is resting in peace and I’m sure she’s now in a better place.”
As a queer person living in a homophobic country, keep in mind that you’re going through a battle every single day and that you’re a hero for winning it by staying alive. Know that you’re not standing alone and that your life can change and things can get better.
If you’re someone who is dealing with suicidal thoughts and need someone to talk to, contact email@example.com. We’ll make sure to refer you to a queer Iraqi doctor who can provide you with the proper emotional support and be available to listen to you. Always know that you’re not alone in this.