by Charlie Hart
An alarming number of young people become depressed and take their own lives after being bullied just for being different
Nobody should have to feel weird, ashamed, rejected, excluded, isolated due to their sexual orientation or their gender expression, nor due to their disability or neurological differences, nor any other human characteristic, but sadly this happens all the time.
Young people, especially teenagers, can be particularly affected by lack of acceptance and support. An alarming number of young people become depressed and take their own lives after being bullied just for being different from typical.
My own son Iggy tragically ended his own life in April 2019, aged just fifteen. This is the heart-breaking fate shared by an increasing number of young people on the “double rainbow” of the autism spectrum and the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, whether they have evident mental health issues or not.
Losing Iggy was unexpected and heart-breaking. We knew Iggy had been struggling to cope with being bullied for being “weird” at school. He had become more withdrawn and started trying to blend into the background to avoid being noticed. At home, however, he had been excited and happy. He was making plans for his future, coming with me on long country walks to train for his DofE expedition, planning his work experience placement working with cars (his special interest), looking forward to the next Marvel movie. He was always joking and giggling. It is tragic and senseless that his life was cut short, with so much to live for and look forward to.
I never want to hear anybody told they should “act more normal” or “try to fit in” or “I would keep that one quiet”. My dream is for everybody to understand how and why we should celebrate and respect all the natural variations in the human condition, freeing everybody to be their authentic selves, with no need to mask or to look for a way out.
I want to spread the message “Different is OK” and educate others about just how common and normal it is to be both neurodivergent and LGBTQIA+. Also, to create safe spaces where young people on the double rainbow can offer mutual support to each other, moderated by ND and LGBTQIA+ “elders” like myself, so nobody needs to feel weird and alone.
AIM for the Rainbow are excited to launch Iggy’s Initiative, to do all we can to make a difference to young people on the double rainbow in Iggy’s memory.