My Brother is Very Depressed
Dear Cousin Butchie,
My brother and I are both gay. I am 17 and he just came out at 15. Strangely, it surprised me. I never suspected it. Our parents have been cool about it and they actually said that it was my place to keep my brother out of trouble. Sometimes parents say stupid things.
The problem is that I've been uncomfortable about my brother for about six months, and I wonder if his coming out was a bigger deal than anyone has realized. Going back to before February, he has acted withdrawn. At times, when we were in our beds, he would say that he didn't think his life has much promise. He has also told me that sometimes life isn't worth living. One night he was asking me questions about Tyler Clementi's suicide. My brother said that it must have taken a lot of courage for Tyler to jump to his death. My brother has also told me that there are boys at school who bully him. He also asked me questions about dating girls. I was quick to tell him that I am attracted to boys so I couldn't answer his questions with any authority. Sometimes he would ask if it was okay to sleep in my bed. I told him that I'd be his teddy bear if he needed me to be. In addition, he has little or no interest in the family dog who has always been his best buddy.
I'm very concerned that my brother is suicidal. He's not the typical gay boy with lots of drama, but I think he needs help.
Dear Big Brother,
The relationship between brothers is difficult to explain, but it appears that you two are well connected and have bonded well. The fact that you are both gay is a primary factor, but there is more to it.
Cousin Butchie is not a shrink, but he knows enough about signs of depression and the red flags which warn that help is needed. There is a difference between feeling sad and making some plan to end it all. It cannot be second guessed!
First, go to your parents or to the parent you feel will be most understanding. Explain your concerns and ask if they can arrage for your brother to see a therapist. You (or your parents or both) need to speak to the school guidance counselor. Bullying cannot be allowed any longer.
Also... make sure that you tell your brother that you will always be available to talk with him and help him BUT also give him the 24 hour a day suicide prevention helpline... 1-855-645-6735. Any problems can be discussed at this number, but help with depression is one of the hallmarks of this totally confidential number.
Big brother... Don't fail to act on my suggestions. You owe your brother as much help as you can possibly provide. Better to act with some alarm and concern than to ignore cries for help.