Mental Health: Gay Athlete Honors Friend Who Committed Suicide

Photo Credits: Josh Velasquez Instagram

September is the National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, guys! And this young man named Josh Velasquez is doing something in his own way to honor his best friend’s memory and shed light on the issue all while raising money for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

In his campaign page in AFSP, Velasquez related how he lost his best friend, Aaron, to suicide in 2011 and how, last year, he himself suffered from “extreme depression and suicidal thoughts.” Velasquez says he was lucky to have had the support of his close friends, family, and AFSP and credits them for “pulling him out of the dark hole he had dug for himself.”

Today, Josh Velasquezโ€”a 21-year-old senior student in neuroscience and cognitive behavior at the University of Arizonaโ€”hopes to pay it forward by running a half-marathon in Long Beach, CA this coming October 8. Said marathon’s purpose is to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Velasquez has a page setup for this which you may check here. Velasquez says he is “running the Long Beach half-marathon in support of those taken too soon by depression and suicide.” He added that there are “nearly 45,000 lives lost to suicide every year.” He concluded his call for support by urging everyone who has been affected by suicide in some way to consider donating to the cause.

In a fact sheet posted by AAS, it cited a study that says “gay men were 6 times more likely than the heterosexual males to attempt suicide and the lesbians were 2 times more likely than heterosexual females to attempt.” Contributing factors mentioned included psychiatric disorders, school (lack of support), coming out at an early age, religion, harassment to name a few.

If you, or anyone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. You may also click here for options. On the other hand, A4A members and readers outside of United States may click this.

Velasquez came out April this year with best friend and fellow athlete and swimmer Axel Reed in an interview with Outsports. To know more about Josh Velasquez’s campaign, click here.

Thoughts? Share it with us in the comments section below.

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  1. Thad

    Thanks for your efforts on suicide prevention, Josh. I’ve had acquaintances and one co-worker who have committed suicide — and one friend from high school who at age 18 took his own life. I think of the pain they endured — and then could not endure anymore. My heart goes out to all suffering and how they can reach out for help and support and assistance.

  2. Locksley

    Obviously, its too real, simultaneously, painful-close even, for people to address on here, even though, its quite prevalent in our (homosexual-world) more so even, in Gay African Americans; teens, ect., how strangely silent people are about this, that is an Epidemic. I was just waiting to see what people would say…

    I’m just hoping that it is a case of too much pain to talk about and not just shallow indifference, I mean, how could it be, right? It’s just that, with everything else going on in the world, period, its just too much, right?

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