Monday, 27 April 2009

The Heroes and Heroines of Laura's Playground

Transgender Suicide Report
For the last five years Laura's Playground has prevented Transgender suicides on line. The estimate of transgender suicides in our community is between 31% to 50% depending on who in the community we talk to. Few outside our Community acknowledge or believe these numbers including Dr Kenneth Zucker and Doctors Blanchard and Baily. Until now it's all been guesswork. Actual numbers were hard to come by as it is hard enough for families to admit there was a suicide let alone that the victims were transgendered. The fact is most medical examiners do not know if a person was gay or transgender due to families too embarrassed to report it. Here we have 5 suicide prevention crisis rooms in chat that are all busy. Our staff both moderators and supervisors are certified in youth suicide prevention. The fact is we have actual numbers not just an estimate. In a 5 year period here this site handled 78,800 suicidal crisis's online. They were of 3 types. Type 3 being suicide ideation, type 2 being suicide ideation with a plan and Type 1 being actual suicide attempts.

Type 3 = 46933 Type 2 = 20238 Type 1= 11629

In addition in a survey here over 50% of Transsexuals had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday some as young as 7. This was also verified by chat transcripts of the crisis's especially in the early years.
...
When the Veteran's suicide rate went up 2% people rushed to fix the issue. When the teen suicide rates go up people are outraged and concerned. The transgender suicide rate is laughed at even by some who care for us. The fact is that our suicide rate as well as our estimated numbers 1-3 million are grossly underestimated. Why are people not outraged? It is likely that even the 50% high number is far too low. We are confident in our numbers and invite other high volume Transgender sites to try suicide prevention themselves. Their numbers will be very simlar to ours. To those that suggest that there is no transgender suicide problem we urge you to talk to our chat staff who deals with this every single day. They are the true heroes of our community. The horror stories they can tell you just can't be made up.

19 comments:

Emelye Waldherr said...

The chat rooms at irc.susans.org have had to deal with suicidal trans people since 1995. We have not kept records of such so I cannot say how many there were as a percentage of chat room users and I do know, having dealt with too many myself, that it isn't an uncommon thing.

The room operators are requested to take online training in suicide prevention and most of them have. It also helps when one is unfortunate enough to be intimately familiar with the despair and hopelessness that being trans can engender. I cannot quantify how many we at Susan's Place have helped and I'm certain the number is very large.

People ignore this issue because the trans community is still too invisible. Look at the reactions, as you well know, Zoe, when trans people begin to speak out for themselves. The invisibility needs to be minimized and our voices need to be raised. When people begin to get the idea that trans people are more like them than they are not, then the issues we face will get more attention.

Anonymous said...

Of all the people I knew that comit suicide non of them were transsexual.

Bad hair days said...

@Anonymous
I'm sad to hear there where many suicides of people you have known. But how can you know the weren't ts?

Anonymous said...

6 actual suicide attempts a day...seriously?

From working in a support chat room myself, I would say: don't believe everything you read on irc.
The number of fake (and I do mean fake - as in troll-like behaviour) suicides that I've dealt with far outnumber any genuine attempts.

Lynn

Nicole said...

When I was 7 I contemplated throwing myself off a cliff.

When I was 13 I asked my Religious Education teacher at High School what happened to people who committed suidide.

When I was 32 I planned how I'd hang myself from the laundry doorway.

Two years ago I contemplated driving my car off the road because my life post-transition wasn't anything like that of other women in society. I was still not being treated as a woman by my family.

Leah said...

Hi Zoƫ,

Do to time restraints I wasn't able to use the letter you wrote. I ended up using a short piece Laura Amato from Laura's Playground wrote, a slightly different version than the one you posted here. In the end though we fell victim to politics, the senators had already decided to vote us down before they even heard us. :shakes head:

Still very disappointed.

Leah

Battybattybats said...

I'd like to see how the demographics stack up next to better population estimates.

But above all to cheer these people saving lives!

Anonymous said...

The statistics gathered from Laura's Playground can hardly be accurate. Yes there is a high rate of suicide amongst trans-people, but that statistic of 31% has been sitting on their front page for the last 5 years, it doesn't change at all because their site does not have accurate research methods or analysis to back up any change or proof in numbers and real research is still in it's infancy around the world.

If they did change it wouldn't they be flashing the decrease in percentage all over their website?

The moderators are not vetted to work on staff as suicide prevention counsellors, the so called suicide prevention certification is a 15 minute online multi-choice test that a monkey could complete, you know the ones where you print out your own certificate at the end? Plenty have done it and it's not a recognised certification at all.

Anyone who is nice and communicates well for a period of time can be given staff status as moderator or teen mentor. There have been two cases of staff faking their own deaths to get their kicks and mess with vulnerable chatters there. The first was August who's intention was to counsel people and actually increase the suicide rate as a hate crime. The latest was a teen mentor called Raychel Roo, if you go to the LP website you can read about her hoax of being murdered in the most brutal way, yet another piece of bad publicity for trans people.

Hardly the safe environment they proclaim all over the website, they can't even control who they enlist as staff so it isn't safe from trolls at all.

You'll also note that LP has no actual intervention permission legally, if someone says they have used a harmful method and are in the process of dying while talking in chat, the staff can not contact emergency services giving them information, the person has to do it themselves therefore defeating the purpose of suicide prevention.

This is because the owner of the site does not want legal responsibility should something go wrong and an actual suicide is completed when their unskilled mods screw up.

The site is a scam, albeit a well intentioned one. Like most things online you never can tell what is real and what is not, but I can assure you the site is nothing what it wants you to believe it is. It should be treated for what it is, a trans-chatroom where people go to talk.

Guan Tanomo

Karen_h said...

in reply to gaun tanamo, i must say this,
As chat director for lauras playground, the suicide course is no
15 minute online course. Online yes,
but it consists of 5 intensive modules that most moderators spend 15 to 20 hours to complete. after passing, you are given your scores and then allowed to print a cert.
Yes we got had with roo and august,
and they were the same person, what do you suggest we do, ask for identification and do a criminal background check for each person we make a staff member? We operate on a basis of trust, believing you are who you say you are until you prove otherwise. If you believe you can do a better job than we have done over the last 5 years I invite you to start a similar chat with all the safeguards we have put into place over the past 5 years. Yes I know we arn't perfect, but rather than criticize, how about some meaningful sugestions, we are always open to
ways to improve and help our users.
Karen_h
Chat Director
Lauras Playground

Anonymous said...

i believe guan tanomo is right about fake statistics. laura claims over 10 million users now and nearly 80,000 suicide crises in the past 5 years. do the math, thats 43 a day. the forums only have 2 or 3 thousand members. 10 million? seriously?

i do think laura does a good job at running the site, but please fix the statistics.

mr. pentagon

Brenda said...

To Guan Tanamo,

I have found Laura Amato and the rest of the wonderful people at Laura's playground to be of the highest caliber. The integrity level of Laura's is unparalleled. Have you actually been to the forums and/or chat at Laura's? The chat room moderators do an outstanding job of keeping the trolls and other harm doers out of the chat rooms. The forum moderators too do an excellent job of keeping the forums safe. My personal experience at Laura's has been so rewarding and uplifting. The love and support at Laura's is just incredible. Yes, were all shocked that Roo was not who she said she was, but that is the extreme rare exception!! 99.999% of all the people at Laura's are who they say they are and are completely dedicated to Laura and Laura's Playground!! Without Laura, our lives would be not be the same. Laura's site is all about love, support, caring and suicide prevention. We all volunteer our time to help one another. To attempt to defame Laura and Laura's site is simply ridiculous and completely misinformed. You have no idea of what you are talking about, and I submit you were probably someone that we threw out because you were not loving, you were not caring, you were not helpful. Am I wrong about you?

Brenda

Proud member of Laura's playground

Anonymous said...

Its clear you have no idea what you're talking about. You seem to just be screaming random insults with no proof and no real point. You must of been a troll/rule breaker if you're doing this out of some random spite. FYI no one is taking you seriously, maybe you should learn that facts > your pointless anger.

Anonymous said...

None of your replies have an answer for the statistics never changing. Also nothing about the lack of legal responsibility or that no interventions can be done.....because what I said about those issues is indeed FACT and cannot be argued.

If I don't know what I'm talking about, provide evidence that what I've just mentioned isn't true. Getting proven wrong on those issues is not something I would feel bad about.

If young people are in a chat room under the misconception they can get help for suicidal intentions then yes staff should be qualified and have background checks, otherwise people can die. Why do you think professionals have to be educated and qualified in these matters?

If this isn't possible then don't make out a SAFE service is being provided because how can it be?

Good luck explaining to a Mother why their kid killed themselves because a moderator made a mistake or that 911 wasn't allowed to be called when they voiced their intentions. I bet she would take it seriously.

Thank you to those who replied.

Guan Tanomo

Anonymous said...

Guan Tanomo you're a idiot. lol Not even worth time answering but.... I'll muse you by saying chat mods refer people to call 911 all the time and point them to other chat lines. The chat mods have the same training as those who host suicide crisis lines. Of course, because you lack intelligence its pretty clear you'd just go around screaming none sense just because you don't like Laura's for whatever reason(I agree with the others, you must be a troll or a person who did something banned and got yourself banned. Bitter and dull. Why don't you go take your anger out elsewhere?). I'm not a mod there, but I know how it works. Laura has posted CLEARLY how it works - but I doubt you can see the forum due to being banned for whatever stupid thing you must of done you can't see it.

Anonymous said...

duh...can't you read?

"Anonymous commenters - please add a signature (doesn't have to be your real name) on each post of yours. Anne O'Namus, Norm D. Ploom, Angry from Kent, Demosthenes, or even your real initials, it doesn't matter.
Commenters are expected to be polite to each other, but the same standard doesn't apply to comments regarding me."

Chico Ferangis.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but the comments made by Guan ring completely true to me. I've personally had several very negative experiences with so called "crisis counsellors" on Laura's Playground.

The first happened over a year ago when I came to Laura's Playground as a last resort before attempting suicide. A moderator spoke to me and told me I had no reason or right to complain. That her life had been much more difficult and I was simply bored and lonely. When I told her I was about to commit suicide she simply ignored me and said "Sure.. see you tomorrow".

I logged off.. devastated and feeling even more isolated and proceeded to swallow enough painkillers to kill a horse.

By luck, or God's will.. I did survive.

A year later, I came back to LP to give it another chance. Having no friends or outlet for my anxieties after a major devastating life events. For a short time I was even helped by some moderators who did appear to care.

The same moderators became irritated and abusive when I needed help several weeks later.

I was told that I was wasting my time. That instead of "complaining" I should "get a hobby". The same moderator complained to me that having to intervene in my suicide attempt made her late for lunch. I was laughed at by another moderator for surgeries she said were "mutilations" while she bragged that she, not I was the all coveted "post-op".

The worst was feeling betrayed by the one moderator I felt had cared about my situation. And when I told her my issues with self-harm and my plans to commit suicide she grew angry and annoyed. I was told that I needed "professional help". When I said I was already in therapy she said "Well I tried to help. Since you didn't want my help you don't want to help yourself. And that means NO ONE can help you".

She also blamed me for "putting the image in her head of someone dying" and began coldly deriding me until feeling isolated and betrayed, I simply left.

That night I went on to partly mutilate myself.. although thankfully I never followed through with my suicide agenda.

Laura's Playground as a site also routinely derides any non-transsexual woman (i.e. tv, cd, dq).

"Crisis counsellors" are almost completely untrained, uninterested, and often very abusive to those in crisis.

The site in general is a chat site. The moderators, on the whole (I say on the whole because I still believe many are well-intentioned) appear to be lonely transwomen with nothing better to do with their time.

I have received some benefit from LP. Several mods have helped me through some difficult moments during the recent weeks that I became suicidal and self-harming.

However, I have also been very hurt by this site as well. I have also heard several stories from other members of this site about how they actually felt *abused* by the moderators during times they were their MOST VULNERABLE.

Overall, I think LP advertising themselves as a suicide intervention site is misleading and potentially DANGEROUS given the people running this site and given their inablity to do ANYTHING during a suicide situation except suggest going to a therapist or calling a suicide hotline.

Really, why is this site here then? Except to bolster the egos of the ones running it and make them feel as if they have some special community agenda?

-Oleander Kay

Anonymous said...

I agree Laura's playground sucks, I have watched mods deride and run down suicidal individuals in front of everyone in the public chat room.

I've seen people at laura's run anyone down that isn't a transsexual (CDs,TV,ect..). I've watched chatters and mods at lauras call other trans people freaks and say they shouldn't be out in public because they don't look good enough for the elite trans at lauras. Chatters and mods on Laura's frequently run down anyone who looks different or doesn't 'pass' well.

Mods and chatters at laura's are extremely homophobic and bashing of gays and the LGBT community is endless on the chat. The word Gay is frequently used as an insult.

I in fact believe many mods and chatters at Laura's are not only homophobic but transphobic also as they run down other trans women constantly who may look or think differently then they do, funny that - trans hating trans people. It wouldn't surprise me that a trans hater mod that was there solely to screw with trans people made it on, they'd fit right in with the other mods at Laura's. They remind me of gay guys that are so ashamed of being gay themselves they run down gay men constantly while secretly sleeping with men.

People on Laura's constantly complain about having to be part of the LGBT community...well no one is forcing you to be...please leave we don't want transphobes or homophobes in our community.

Mods at laura's constantly make stupid statements like some trans people are trans because they're bored or want to be cool or that hrt and srs should be made harder rather then easier. These types of statements are inherently bigoted and anti-trans. Calling trans people freaks because they don't fit your description of what a trans person should be is promoting hatred towards transgender people not supporting them. Not all trans people's sole goal in life is to be accepted by the hetero cisgendered community or to go stealth and 'trick' a straight man into sleeping with us.

They don't want to help you with thoughts of suicide they want to send you to a therapist, wonder if they get a kickback for each person they send to a gender therapist.


--a

Anonymous said...

I worked for Lauras playground. after finding out on some information on a moderator. I quit. and from there I chatted untill I could not take it anymore. after being pm ed by this so called transgendered moderator. I was told You are banned. And from there I was like whatever. this person is NOT TRANSGENDER and I am surprised this person is allowed on this site. that is one thing which I don't understand. They let a non tg person mod. or be the vp of the site. what the hell is up with this site. I was the only good mod on that site. and they treated me like shit. cause I was trying to prove a point. and got banned all together. such help they are. that is all i am saying. have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

THIS SO CALLED TRANSGENDERED STAFF MEMBER IS NOT TRANSGENDERED. HE DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO HANDLE A CRISIS RIGHT. NOR EFFECTIVELY. NOR DOES HE KNOW HOW TO MANAGE HIS OWN ANGER. HE SHOULD BE THROWN IN LIKE A MAD HOUSE OF PEOPLE AND LEFT THERE. OH WAIT. LAURA'S PLAYGROUND IS A FUCKEN MAD HOUSE. DAMN FUCKED UP SITE ANYHOW. THEY DO NOT KNOW HOW TO HANDLE A CRISIS EFFECTIVELY, AS I SAID. AND AT TIMES BE TALKING TO THE PERSON FOR HOURS. OTHER MODS THAT I KNOW OF. SHE DID A WANDER FULL JOB. SHE IS THE ONLY MOD WHO DID A CRISIS ASSESSED THEM AND GOT OUT. AT TIMES TAKING LIKE 10 TO 20 MINUTES. SHE IS THE ONLY ONE THAT DID IT EFFECTIVELY. BUT BEING THAT LAURA HAD CONDEMNED HER. CAUSE OF SOME ISSUES ON THE SITE. AND BEING BANNED, AND THIS SO CALLED TG MOD, HAS NO RIGHT TO BE ON THAT SITE. HE IS NOTHING BUT A BASTARD. AND SHOULD BE AVOIDED... HE HATES HER.. WELL I HAVE NEWS FOR YOU PEOPLES. FUCK AWAY GET A LIFE. AND GET FORMAL SCHOOLING. A REAL CRISIS WORKER HAS AT LEAST A BACHELORS DEGREE IN PSYCHOLOGY. THAT IS THE LAW IN THE STATES ANY HOW. AND BY THE WAY... WE WILL BE GETTING A GROUP TOGETHER SOON. SO WATCH OUT.

-YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE