The First Openly Gay Miss America Contestant Speaks Out About LGBT Suicide

A Miss America contestant this year is sharing her experience about being openly gay.

Erin O'Flaherty, who was crowned Miss Missouri in June and who competed for the title of Miss America this past weekend, is taking a new approach to bringing attention to the current LGBT issues. In the past, we have all heard about how people fight and verbally abuse each other over the LGBT argument, but Erin O'Flaherty is taking a peaceful approach to the situation. In her campaign for Miss America, her main focus is getting others to recognize the detrimental effects that the prejudice against the LGBT community has on those identifying in that category. Her platform is preventing suicide in LGBT youth.   The LGBT community has suicide rates higher that the average population, a fact that O'Flaherty is all too aware of, as she lost one of her best friends to suicide when they were thirteen.

"I realized in the grieving process that there were signs that I missed," O'Flaherty said. "So I set out to educate myself on what those warning signs could be and what we could do to end suicide." O'Flaherty's friend was not gay, but she says that once she started educating herself on suicide, she noticed that suicide disproportionally affects the LGBT community and made the eradication of all suicide, with a focus on the LGBT community, her goal.

"The Miss America Organization has absolutely enhanced my life," O'Flaherty said. "It's given me a platform to speak about issues that are really close to my heart."

In her day-to-day life, O'Flaherty owns and operates a clothing store while working closely with LGBT youth to help prevent them from committing suicide. 

Suicide is a very serious thing that too many people do not take seriously enough. Some people don't recognize the damage that their words can do or they don't understand what effect their prejudice can have on others. The LGBT community is an example of this. All of the harsh words and actions have caused the suicide rates among that group to skyrocket in the last decade since it has become an open topic.

Being respectful to the community and their choices is important, and that's true for all people, not just the LGBT community.

If you or a friend are considering suicide for any reason, you can call 1-800-273-8255. 24/7 or go to: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

For LGBT-specific suicide prevention help, call 866-488-7386 24/7 or click the link above for 24/7 suicide prevention help.

If you are an App State student, you can also call: 1-800-273-TALK[8255] for the suicide prevention hotline 24/7. You can also go to  https://preventsuicide.appstate.edu and click on the "chat" option for suicide prevention help.

 

Sources: 

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-missamerica-lgbt-idUSKCN11F2P3

Picture sources: 

http://www.out.com/sites/out.com/files/2016/09/08/miss_missouri.jpg

http://precollege-summer.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/264/2015/03/HiRes.jpg

http://www.cmchatlive.com/scenic/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/miss-america-class-of-2016.jpg

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