#BiphobiaKills – Why We Need To Talk About Bi Suicides
[CN: Suicide, Biphobia]
On May 21, 2015, bisexual sixteen-year-old Adam Kizer hung himself after years of being bullied. He was rushed to the hospital, but did not respond to any of the efforts to save his life, so he was taken off life support four days later. Kizer’s father, William Kizer, told the Press Democrat that his son was bullied “since elementary school;” at one point, William says, Adam “was tied to a tree by other kids and had gas poured on him.” Adam made several suicide attempts prior to last week. “I don’t think the boy went a whole week without somebody messing with him,” William told the Press Democrat. “They would tell him ‘You should kill yourself.’”
Plenty has been written about Leelah Alcorn, Blake Brockington, Kyler Prescott, and many other transgender teens who have committed suicide, and rightly so. However, there is very little–if any–coverage of Adam Kizer, Anthony Stubb, Alyssa Morgan, or other bisexual teenagers who have committed suicide.
And the silence is literally killing the bisexual community.
According to a 2011 study conducted by Joseph Robinson and Dorothy Espelage of the Illinois College of Education, out of the 33% of LGBTQ students surveyed who reported thinking about suicide during the past month, 44% of the bisexual youth surveyed they had contemplated suicide, placing bisexuals at a higher risk. The report also shows bisexual youths “were at elevated risk of suicide attempts, with more than 21 percent reporting that they had made at least one attempt during the prior year.”
The San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s report on bisexual invisibility suggests there’s a correlation between a higher risk of suicidality among bisexuals and bisexual invisibility. Not only does the report share similar results of Robinson and Espelage’s study, but also reveals bisexuals have poorer mental health period than the general population. Part of the reason, the report suggests, is the lack of bisexual support in many LGBTQ organizations. According to the report:
For many years, Funders for LGBTQ Issues has tracked data on grants made by U.S. foundations to LGBT organizations. Although LGBT funding has risen in terms of dollars, it still represents a tiny fraction of the total grantmaking, with bi issues among the least supported every year. In 2008, while total foundation giving to LGBT issues increased compared to the previous year (from $77 million in 2007 to $107 million in 2008) and the percentage of dollars increased (from 0.18% to 0.24%), funding for bi organizations or programs went down; it was the lowest of all two dozen demographic groups they tracked. In fact, during all of 2008, not a single grant in the entire country explicitly addressed bisexual issues. (Emphasis in original article.)
With all the available data, why is there so little coverage of bisexual suicide victims? Maybe it’s because of the myth that bisexuals still have straight privileges because we can still fall in love with people of a different gender. Studies show, however, the exact opposite; in fact, I suggest the myth that we still have “straight privileges” is why we’re not getting the help we need.
I don’t want to pull a David Silverman and suggest that bisexuals are the most oppressed people in the world. I’m not suggesting we stop talking about #blacklivesmatter or #translivesmatter. On the contrary; I want to see #biphobiakills trend on social media as much as #blacklivesmatter and #translivesmatter. As Audre Lorde famous said, “There’s no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
So say those names out loud: Adam Kizer, Anthony Stubb, Alyssa Morgan, etc. Use the #biphobiakills hashtag. Save a life.