The champion of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in the U.S. House maintains that President Obama will provide the “full spectrum” of engagement in getting the military’s gay ban repealed once the Pentagon completes its report on the issue.
In an interview Tuesday with the Washington Blade, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) said Obama has been engaged in moving Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and that this effort will expand once the Pentagon working group report — due Dec. 1 — is complete.
“I think there are different levels of engagement and, I think, once the report comes out, I think we’ll see the full spectrum of that engagement,” Murphy said.
The first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress said he expects this “full spectrum of engagement” to come from not only the White House, but also the president’s “own Department of Defense.”
Murphy said he hasn’t seen a draft copy of the report, but noted media reports indicating that the study will be favorable to open service in the U.S. military. He said the study should have a positive impact on senators who’ve said they wanted to wait for the report before endorsing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.
“The study group came back and said that this will not hurt national security, and the troops, like most Americans, see that it’s the right thing to do,” Murphy said. “And so, now we need the senators over there who’ve been a roadblock to put the political games aside and do what’s right for our country.”
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the sponsor of repeal legislation in the Senate, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) sent a letter to the Pentagon on Monday calling for the report to be made available to members of Congress as soon as possible. The Human Rights Campaign issued a similar statement last week.
Asked whether he similarly thinks the report should be available now, Murphy replied, “I think they should release it as soon as it’s completely done.”
Murphy said he’s participated in discussions with Senate leadership and Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) about moving forward with the fiscal year 2011 defense budget bill, which currently contains “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.
Still, the Pennsylvania lawmaker didn’t offer details on the discussions and characterized them only as “productive.”
Amid reports that talks are taking place to potentially strip the defense authorization bill of its repeal language, Murphy said Republicans have sought a bill without the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” provision.
“I think that’s what the Republicans would like to see,” Murphy said. “But I think those of us in the House and 78 percent of the American people and those in the military currently serving want to see the Senate do what’s right and repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and put it on the president’s desk, so he can sign it into law.”
With limited time remaining this Congress, it’s possible lawmakers won’t repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year, leaving Obama to come up with another game plan — perhaps non-congressional action such as a stop-loss order — to put an end to the gay ban.
But Murphy was reluctant to call on Obama to issue a stop-loss order to end discharges under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and maintained Congress can still repeal the law this year.
“Let’s cross that bridge when we get there,” he said. “Now it’s still in the Congress’ domain to act and especially, specifically, the Senate’s domain.”
While seeing a path forward this year, Murphy doubts that Republican leadership in the 112th Congress will be willing to consider “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal as part of its agenda.
Asked whether he thinks GOP leaders in the next Congress would be willing to address the issue, Murphy replied simply, “N0.”
During his time in Congress, Murphy has been seen as a leader for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal because of his work moving a measure that would end the ban through the U.S. House.
Murphy took up sponsorship of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal legislation last year, which at the time had about 150 co-sponsors, and gradually built support for the measure.
In May, the work paid off when Murphy submitted a repeal amendment to the House floor that passed by a vote of 234-194.
The work earned Murphy considerable support among the LGBT community in his bid for re-election. Still, he didn’t survive the Republican tide on Election Day and was defeated by his GOP opponent, Mike Fitzpatrick.
But Murphy said he isn’t going to “second guess” whether his leadership on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal contributed to his loss on Election Day.
“My dad taught me that if you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything,” Murphy said. “And I was proud to stand for equality and for the troops and for national security, and I’ll continue to do so until I turn the keys over to this office on Jan. 3.”
Even with his loss, Murphy said he stands by other tough votes in his district, such his “yes” votes on the $787 billion stimulus package and health care reform.
“We stopped the worst recession from turning into a depression,” Murphy said. “As far as health care, there are millions of Americans that will now be covered, and that’s something that’s positive.”
And what’s on Murphy’s docket once his term is complete at the end of the year?
“I’m going to hug and kiss my kids and hopefully I’ll catch an Eagles game,” Murphy said. “That’s the game plan.”
The transcript of the Murphy interview follows:
ON ELECTION RESULTS
Washington Blade: What’s your take on the election results on Nov. 2? Do you think that your leadership on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal contributed to your loss on Election Day?
Rep. Patrick Murphy: You know, I’m not going to second guess anything. My dad taught me that if you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything. And I was proud to stand for equality and for the troops and for national security, and I’ll continue to do so until I turn the keys over to this office on Jan. 3.
Blade: Why do you think you think you lost on Election Day?
Murphy: I think it was a tough year for Democrats, and I think my opponent ran a great campaign, and I’m proud of the support that we had, but it was an historic wave that we got caught up in, but … we’re going to continue to stand for middle-class families and for our country and do what’s right.
Blade: Is there anything over your past two terms in Congress that you regret? Anything that you think you could have done differently to win re-election?
Murphy: You know, I don’t live my life with regrets. There’s things here and there. I wish I would have played the lottery numbers differently on Saturday night. … We had an incredible time serving the families of my district and our country, and we helped protect 3,000 jobs, we helped end the war in Iraq, we helped move our country in a new direction. …
Blade: So the vote for the stimulus package, the vote for the health care bill — you stand by them today?
We stopped the worst recession since the Great — we stopped the worst recession from turning into a depression. As far as health care, there are millions of Americans that will now be covered, and that’s something that’s positive.
ON ‘DON’T ASK’ REPEAL IN LAME DUCK
Blade: How confident are you that Congress is going to be able to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the lame duck session?
Murphy: Well, we need the Senate to act. It’s in the Senate’s hands. We did our job over here in the House. I was proud to lead that effort and now we’re continuing to put the appropriate pressure on the Senate to do what’s right for national security.
We’re still in Afghanistan and Iraq and we cannot be forcing honorable men and women who are willing to take a bullet to keep our families safe to be thrown out just because they happen to be gay.
Blade: Are there any conditions that you think need to be met — anything that you think needs to happen — to muster enough support for the Senate to move forward?
Murphy: I think we’ll see — we need the senators, especially on the Republican side, to do what’s right for our troops, and I think it couldn’t be more clear. A lot of them said, “Well, let’s see what the study group says.” Well, the study group came back and said that this will not hurt national security, and the troops, like most Americans, see that it’s the right thing to do.
And so, now we need the senators over there who’ve been a roadblock to put the political games aside and do what’s right for our country.
Blade: Have you had conversations with Senate leadership or Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin about moving forward with the defense authorization bill in lame duck?
Blade: How would you characterize those conversations?
Blade: What made them so productive?
Murphy: You’ll see.
Blade: How serious do you think this talk is of moving forward with the defense authorization bill with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language stripped? Is that a serious option that’s on the table?
Murphy: I think that’s what the Republicans would like to see. But I think those of us in the House and 78 percent of the American people and those in the military currently serving want to see the Senate do what’s right and repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and put it on the president’s desk, so he can sign it into law.
Blade: You mentioned the media reports on the Pentagon study. Do you see that having an impact right now on influencing some senators who were on the fence in getting them to support “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal?
Murphy: I hope so because they looked their constituents and the American public in the eye and said, “As soon as this working group comes back, we’ll do the right thing on what it says.” Well, the report came out, it shows how the American military feels that this is a non-issue and that there is … 26 other countries who allow their members to serve openly, and for the American troops, it’s offensive to them to think that they’re not as professional as 26 other countries.
So, hopefully, our senators recognize that and will do what’s right.
Blade: Have you seen the draft report?
Blade: Should the Pentagon release the report immediately — the official report? And, if they do that, what kind of impact do you think that would have on getting the ball rolling?
Murphy: I would like to read it, and I would like to see it, and I look forward to reading it.
Blade: But should they release that report immediately?
Murphy: I think they should release it as soon as it’s completely done.
ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION
Blade: Do you think President Obama has been engaged in getting the Senate to move forward with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in lame duck?
Murphy: Um, uh, yes.
Blade: What evidence do you see of him doing that?
Murphy: Well, I think there’s different levels of engagement and, I think, once the report comes out, I think we’ll see the full spectrum of that engagement.
Blade: During a recent press conference, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs didn’t identify “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal as among the legislative items the president wants to see in lame duck. Is that of concern to you?
Murphy: I think they were waiting for the report to come out. The report is days away from coming out officially — and not just excerpts of it that we’ve all read.
Blade: Is there anything more right now that the president could be doing to get the Senate to move forward with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal?
Murphy: I think once the report comes out we’ll see the full spectrum of engagement from — and the appropriate amount of engagement from the White House once that report comes out from his own Department of Defense.
Blade: Do you think Defense Secretary Robert Gates right now is being engaged in getting the Senate to move forward with the defense authorization with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal?
Murphy: I look forward to Gen. [Carter] Ham’s testimony on Thursday.
Blade: But do you think Secretary Gates is engaged?
Murphy: I look forward to Gen. Ham’s testimony on Thursday.
Blade: Do you think that this process — having a year-long study to examine “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — was the appropriate way to address the issue? Do you think it jeopardized legislative efforts for repeal by leaving only a small window open for action in lame duck?
Murphy: Well, I think the premise behind the study was that — how we’re going to implement “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” [repeal], not if we’re going to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” So, I think it’s interesting — to read that report and how we’re going to implement it.
But the reality of this is I think that we have time to act. We all serve until Jan. 3, and we need to get out there.
Blade: There’s also been some action in courts. A California federal court ruled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” unconstitutional, and for eight days, had an injunction in place preventing enforcement of the law. Do you think it was a mistake for the Obama administration to appeal this ruling?
Murphy: Well, you know, it’s interesting. I actually met a soldier who went and enlisted after that injunction came out. And then, … he was going to get his physical and they had to withdraw.
I think that’s why it’s very clear that Congress needs to do its job and that we can’t punt this to the courts or to the White House. We need to get after it and finally repeal the law that Congress put into place 16 years ago. …
Blade: In the event that Congress doesn’t repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in lame duck, do you think the president should issue a stop-loss order to stop the discharges?
Murphy: Let’s cross that bridge when we get there. Now it’s still in the Congress’ domain to act and especially, specifically, the Senate’s domain.
ON THE NEXT CONGRESS
Blade: In the event that Congress can’t do it this year —
Murphy: Congress can do it this year. We all serve until Jan. 3.
Blade: Do you think the 112th Congress will be in an equal position to appeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” compared to the 111th Congress?
Murphy: I guess time will tell. We’ll see.
Blade: Do you think Republican leadership in the House will be willing to consider “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal?
Blade: If this fight continues, can you recommend someone in the 112th Congress who can take up the mantle of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in the U.S. House?
Murphy: Let’s get it done in the 111th Congress now. …
ON HIS PERSONAL FUTURE
Blade: Once your term expires, what do you plan to pursue when you go back to Pennsylvania?
Murphy: I’m going to hug and kiss my kids and hopefully I’ll catch an Eagles game. That’s the game plan.
Blade: Is there an occupation that you intend to pursue?
Murphy: We’ll see.
Blade: Do you plan on continuing to be an advocate for open service in the military?
Murphy: I continue to plan on serving my country in some capacity and fighting for the lives that I believe in to make our country even greater.
Blade: And open service in the military is among them?
Minnesota middle school principal ousted for displaying Pride flag
Critics ramped up attacks on the career educator- some compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students
MARSHALL, Mn. — A former middle school principal in Minnesota who lost her job after displaying a Pride flag alleges in a federal lawsuit that the school system retaliated against her for supporting LGBTQ+ students.
Mary Kay Thomas filed the complaint against Marshall Public Schools in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota Tuesday after anti-LGBTQ+ middle school staff, parents, students and local clergy began efforts to remove the Pride flag that she put up in her middle school’s cafeteria in 2020 as a part of an inclusiveness effort.
According to the lawsuit, Thomas has been a teacher and principal for more than three decades with a long track record of success. She held the principal position at Marshall Middle School for 15 years, receiving contract renewals, pay raises and praise for her performance.
“But when Thomas decided to display an LGBTQ Pride Flag in the school cafeteria in early 2020, everything changed,” reads the complaint.
Thomas refused to take down the Pride flag as critics ramped up attacks on the career educator. The lawsuit alleges that some even compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students.
“Sadly, the Marshall School District has sided with these critics,” her lawyers wrote.
What followed was an “escalating series of adverse actions” taken by the Marshall School District, said the lawsuit. She claims that the school targeted her by threatening her employment, conducting a “bad-faith” investigation, putting her on indefinite involuntary leave, suspending her without pay and putting a notice of deficiency in her personnel file.
The complaint says that the deficiencies were “false, distorted, and/or related to Thomas’s association with members of the LGBTQ community.”
Thomas also claims that the District attempted to get her to quit by removing her as principal and assigning her to a “demeaning ‘special projects’ position.”
At one point, Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams, who is named as a defendant in the case, told Thomas he could “make this all go away” if she stepped down, according to the complaint.
The school removed the Pride flag in August 2021 after settling a lawsuit brought by residents who opposed it.
The Blade reached out to Williams for comment but did not receive a response. However, according to the Marshall Independent, Williams did release a statement on the matter.
“Marshall Public Schools is committed to the education of every child and has strong policies and practices in place against discrimination, against both students and staff members. The school district is committed to creating a respectful, inclusive, and safe learning and working environment for students, staff and our families,” Williams said. “While the school cannot comment about the specific allegations made in the complaint, the school district strongly denies any allegation of discriminatory conduct. The school will vigorously defend itself against these allegations.”
In addition, Thomas alleges that she resisted unwanted sexual advancements from school board member Bill Swope. She claims she told Williams about the sexual harassment.
As of Thursday, the school has not filed a response, and no hearing has been scheduled yet.
Thomas is seeking a jury trial, damages and reinstatement as principal of Marshall Middle School.
Matthew Shepard honored at National Cathedral
Daylong services held to mark his 45th birthday
The parents of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in a 1998 hate crime that drew international attention to anti-LGBTQ violence, were among those attending a day of religious services commemorating Shepard’s 45th birthday on Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral.
The services, which the Cathedral organized in partnership with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, included tributes to Shepard at the Cathedral’s St. Joseph’s Chapel, where his remains were interred in a ceremony in 2018.
“Matthew Shepard’s death is an enduring tragedy affecting all people and should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry and instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are,” the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, said at the time of Shepard’s interment.
“In the years since Matthew’s death, the Shepard family has shown extraordinary courage and grace in keeping his spirit and memory alive, and the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as his final resting place,” Hollerith said.
The first of the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard began at 7 a.m. with prayers, scripture readings, and music led by the Cathedral’s Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan. The service was live streamed on YouTube.
An online, all-day service was also held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Cathedral officials said was intended to “connect people around the world to honor Shepard and the LGBTQ community and pray for a more just world.”
The Shepard services concluded with a 5:30 p.m. in-person remembrance of Shepard in the Cathedral’s Nave, its main worship space. Among those attending were Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, who have said they created the Matthew Shepard Foundation to continue their son’s support for equality for all.
A statement released by the Cathedral says a bronze plaque honoring Matthew Shepard was installed in St. Joseph’s Chapel to mark his final resting place at the time Shepard was interred there in 2018.
Following the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard, the Adams Morgan gay bar Pitchers hosted a reception for Dennis and Judy Shepard, according to Pitchers’ owner David Perruzza.
One of the two men charged with Shepard’s murder, Russell Henderson, pleaded guilty to the charge after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty for him. The second of the two men charged, Aaron McKinney, was convicted of the murder following a lengthy jury trial.
Prosecutors said McKinney repeatedly and fatally struck Shepard in the head with the barrel of a handgun after he and Henderson tied Shepard to a wooden fence in a remote field outside Laramie, Wy., on Oct. 6, 1998. Police and prosecutors presented evidence at McKinney’s trial that McKinney and Henderson met Shepard at a bar in Laramie on that day and lured him into their car, where they drove him to the field where authorities said McKinney fatally assaulted him.
Shepard died six days later at a hospital in Ft. Collins, Colo., where he was taken after being found unconscious while still tied to the fence.
In a dramatic courtroom scene following the jury’s guilty verdict for McKinney, Dennis Shepard urged the judge to spare McKinney’s life by not handing down a death sentence. He said that out of compassion and in honor of his son’s life, McKinney should be allowed to live. The judge sentenced McKinney to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, the same sentence given to Henderson.
‘Very familiar’: Mark Glaze’s story brings into focus mental health for gay men
Experts see common story as LGBTQ people enter middle age
The death by suicide at age 51 of Mark Glaze, a gun reform advocate who was close to many in D.C.’s LGBTQ community, is striking a chord with observers who see his struggles with mental health and alcoholism as reflective of issues facing many gay men as they enter middle age.
Glaze’s story resonates even though much of the attention on mental health issues in the LGBTQ community is devoted to LGBTQ youth going through the coming out process and transgender people who face disproportionate violence and discrimination within the LGBTQ community in addition to a growing focus on LGBTQ seniors entering later stages of life.
Randy Pumphrey, senior director of behavioral health for the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health, said Glaze’s story was “very familiar” as a tale of mental health issues facing gay men in the middle stage of life.
“You’re talking about a gay-identified man who is in his 50s, somebody who has struggled with alcohol misuse — or maybe abuse or dependence— and also depression,” Pumphrey said. “I think that there has always been a higher incidence of suicide for men in general in their middle age 50 and above, but this increases when you’re talking about gay men, and also if you’re talking about gay men who suffer with mental health issues, or substance use disorder issues.”
Several sources close to Glaze said his death did not come as a surprise. His family has been open about his death by suicide last month while he was in jail after allegedly fleeing the scene of a car accident in Pennsylvania and a long history of depression and alcoholism.
Pumphrey said Glaze’s situation coping with mental health issues as well as the consequences for his role in the accident, were reflective of someone who might “begin to perceive that this is an issue that they can’t get away from, or the consequences they can’t get away from exposure and that can lead somebody to a fatal outcome.”
“My experience is that there have been gay men that I have worked with over the years — particularly in their 50s and early 60s — it’s taken them a long time to recognize the severity of the problem, whether it’s their depression or their substance abuse, and then they find themselves in a very precarious situation because of shame, and so they may not necessarily seek help even though they need help.”
A 2017 study in the American Journal of Men’s Health found the prevalence of depression among gay men is three times higher than the general adult population, which means they are a subgroup at high risk for suicide.
The study found “scant research exists about gay men’s health beyond sexual health issues,” most often with HIV, which means issues related to depression and suicidality “are poorly understood.”
“Gay men’s health has often been defined by sexual practices, and poorly understood are the intersections of gay men’s physical and mental health with social determinants of health including ethnicity, locale, education level and socioeconomic status,” the study says.
The study acknowledged being male itself is one factor incorporated in addressing mental health issues in this subgroup because “regardless of sexual orientation, men can be reluctant to seek help for mental health problems.” Another study quoted in the report found 23 percent, less than one quarter of gay men, who attempted suicide sought mental health or medical treatment.
In addition to mental health issues facing gay men in Glaze’s age group, others saw his situation as a common story in the culture of Washington, which is notorious for celebrating and prioritizing success with little tolerance for personal setbacks.
In the case of Glaze, who had sparred on Fox News with Tucker Carlson as executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety, the threat of exposure and threat to his career may have seemed overwhelmingly daunting.
Steven Fisher, who knew Glaze since the 1990s and worked with him at the D.C.-based Raben Group, said one factor that contributed to Glaze’s condition was “he could only see upward in terms of his career trajectory.”
“We saw that in him and it had me very concerned because I felt like he might end up in a place that wasn’t good once he left Everytown, and that’s tragically and sadly what happened,” Fisher said. “I think he just had trouble adjusting to what is usually a roller coaster ride, I think, in people’s careers, especially in the D.C. world.”
Along with Glaze, Fisher has worked on gun issues for Everytown, which has been a client of his since 2015 after he worked for them in 2012 after the Newtown shooting.
Compounding the challenges that Glaze faced is a culture among many gay men focused on sexuality, which prioritizes youth and appearance and presents problems as those qualities start fading when men enter middle age.
Fisher said another factor in Glaze’s condition was social media, pointing out public perception about his identity was important to him.
“If you look at his social media — I think this is instructive to the rest of us — a lot of the comments are about how Mark was so good looking and he was charming, and he was so smart and so funny,” Fisher said. “That’s all true, and that’s why he was very appealing to many people, but those qualities don’t really tell you everything about a person. In fact, one could argue they’re superficial in a way, and people have to remember people are more complicated than what you see on social media.”
One issue for gay men facing mental health issues as they enter middle age is they don’t have the same resources as those available to LGBTQ youth, who have been more of a focus in terms of mental health issues in the LGBTQ community.
Among the leading organizations for LGBTQ youth is the Trevor Project, which has resources and a hotline for LGBTQ youth facing mental health crises.
Kevin Wong, vice president of communications for the Trevor Project, said his organization would be receptive to an older LGBTQ person who calls the hotline, but ultimately would refer that person elsewhere.
“If an LGBTQ person above the age of 25 reaches out to The Trevor Project’s crisis services for support and expresses suicidal thoughts, our counselors will listen, actively and with empathy, and work with them to de-escalate and form a safety plan, like any other contact,” Wong said. “However, our organization has remained youth-centric since its founding and our volunteer crisis counselors are specifically trained with younger LGBTQ people in mind.”
Much attention is focused on the coming out process for LGBTQ people, a time that can upend close relationships — as well as reaffirm them — and a process more commonly associated with youth.
Ilan Meyer, senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said data is scant about suicide rates among LGBTQ people, but information on suicide attempts shows they tend to be at a heightened rate for LGBTQ people as they go through the coming out process.
“What we do know is that there is a connection with the coming out period at whatever age coming out happens,” Meyer said. “And so, we see a proximity to coming out whatever age that happened, we see the suicide attempts proceeding and after that.”
Suicide attempts, Meyer said, are much higher for LGBTQ people than the population at large. The self-reported rate of suicide attempts in the U.S. population as a whole, Meyer said, is 2.4 percent, but that figure changes to 20 to 30 percent among LGBTQ youth, which about to 10 to 15 times greater.
Black and Latino people, Meyer said, have been less likely to make suicide attempts in their lifetimes, although he added that may be changing in recent years.
With the primary focus on mental health issues elsewhere in the LGBTQ community, Glaze’s death raises questions about whether sufficient resources are available to people in his demographic, or whether individuals are willing to seek out care options that are available.
Meyer said whether the resources for suicidal ideologies among LGBTQ people are sufficient and what more could be done “is the the million-dollar question.”
“It’s definitely not determined by just mental health,” Meyer said. “So many people have depression, but they don’t attempt suicide. And so, then the difficult thing is to find the right moment to intervene and what that intervention should be.”
Meyer said much of the focus on mental health is on a person’s last moments before making a suicide attempt, such as making suicide hotlines readily available, but some of the stressors he sees “are more chronic, ongoing things related to homophobia and the kind of experience that LGBT people have as they come to terms to realize their sexual identity.”
Pumphrey said another factor in mental health issues not to be underestimated for almost two years now is “dealing with the COVID and loneliness epidemic,” which appears to have no immediate end in sight with the emergence of the Omnicron variant.
“There was always this piece of sometimes the experience of being in your 50s and early 60s…we talk about the invisibility factor,” Pumphrey said. “But when there’s just this sense of being disconnected from community, especially in the early days of the pandemic, and kind of being locked down, I think that just raised the risk.”
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