Pride Month is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community while shining a light on the hardships they face.
Studies show this group, which is often victimized and discriminated against, experiences depression at higher rates.
According to the American Public Health Association Journal, 17% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people have attempted suicide in their lifetime. That is compared to just over 2% of the general U.S. population.
"It's not just a bad day," said suicide survivor and celebrated singer Myra Smith. "It's being in the darkest place, in the lowest place, and not being able to see your way out — not being able to breathe."
Smith, who developed depression at the age of six when a family member sexually assaulted her, has tried to die by suicide three times as an adult, Smith said.
One of those attempts happened after she came out and her church and family rejected her.
"I just kept saying 'I want to sleep forever,'" said Smith. "I didn't want to live another day knowing that these things have happened to me."
Smith said she’s grateful she survived, and is using her platform as a singer, author and pastor to encourage others in a dark place to keep going.
"If you could just hold on a little bit, just wait another day. Greater is coming," said Smith, who is now married to her partner, expanding her family of loved ones in the years since her darkest days.
"After living and having all these great things happen, I would have never been able to know this love."
Psychologist and post-traumatic stress disorder expert Dr. Kristie Norwood said depression can be triggered by stress, trauma and a genetic predisposition if there’s a family history.
Previous research has also linked depression to a chemical imbalance in the brain.
"Depression is really this sadness that lingers," said Dr. Norwood. "Medication and therapy together can often be the best course of treatment for depression," she said.
According to Smith, that combination has saved her life, through those bad days. Now, she says, she can experience the good days.
"Not today," said Smith, as she referenced a tattoo with those words on her arms.
"[When] I woke up [after] one of the times [I tried to die by suicide], I tattooed [those words] on my arm ... I did that on purpose, because if I can just make it one day at a time, I've made it."
As a part of Smith's healing, she is taking part in an event for survivors of sexual assault and hosting.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
The Trevor Project also provides confidential support for LGBTQ+ youth in crisis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-866-488-7386.
There is also a 24/7 confidential online instant messaging option with a Trevor Project counselor.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention also provides a list of resources for the LGBTQ+ community.
This story was originally published by Jessica Larche at Scripps News Norfolk.
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