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Lesbian girl asks ‘What is wrong with death?’ (trigger warning)

Lesbian girl asks ‘What is wrong with death?’ (trigger warning)

In Bangladesh, an ominous Facebook post foreshadowed a young lesbian’s response to a forced marriage

NOTICE: For help in dealing with suicidal thoughts, click HERE.

Riya and Nusrat
Riya and Nusrat

A young lesbian in the city of Kustia in western Bangladesh committed suicide late last month after her girlfriend was forced into an arranged marriage.

Shortly before her death, Riya Khatun, age 17,  posted an ominous message on Facebook. In English translation, it read: “How many people die? What is wrong with death?”

Worldwide, suicides and suicide attempts are a particular problem for the widely stigmatized LGBTQ community.  In the United States, for example, “All LGBTQ groups had a high prevalence of lifetime suicide ideation, attempted suicide, and non-suicidal self-injury,” according to a report by the Williams Institute. “The highest proportion of lifetime suicide attempts was among transgender people (42%), compared with the percentages among LBQ cis women (32%) and GBQ cis men (22%).”

In contrast, for the total population of the U.S., only an estimated 0.7% of  adults aged 18 or older have attempted suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The LGBTQ rights group JusticeMakers Bangladesh in France (JMBF) reported that Riya and her girlfriend Nusrat, a classmate in the last year of secondary school, promised each other that they would get married to each other after finishing their studies.

“They couldn’t go a day without seeing each other,” said Tumpa Khatun, Riya’s aunt.

But the arranged marriage changed everything. When they met on Feb. 27 at Nusrat’s father’s house, Riya pleaded with Nusrat not to return to her new husband, the aunt said.  When Nusrat left her alone, Riya hanged herself by twisting her veil around her neck.

Attorney Shahanur Islam, JMBF’s founder and secretary-general, said that, due to the non-acceptance of same-sex relations by Bangladeshi families, society, and the state, suicides among sexual minority individuals, especially lesbian girls, are common incidents in Bangladesh.

In most cases, family members do not disclose these incidents, fearing dishonor. Shahanur Islam said that the government should pay special attention to providing direct support to sexual minority individuals, including psychological counseling, to prevent such incidents.

Facebook post shows Riya and Nusrat (left) and Bengali text that means "How many people die? What is wrong with death?"
Facebook post shows Riya and Nusrat (left) and Bengali text that means “How many people die? What is wrong with death?”

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Suicide prevention lines

If you are in the United States and are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression, or just want to talk, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. 

In the United Kingdom, the Samaritans suicide hotline is at  +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90.

In Nigeria, LGBTQ people are invited to download the mobile  Qtalk discussion/counseling app, where they can chat with a counsellor for free. (To download it, click HERE.)

Wikipedia also lists many countries’ suicide crisis lines, mixed in with general emergency numbers.

View Comments (2)
  • Solo puedo decir sigan con la lucha ,es dificil si pero vaale pena , yo como activista lgtbiqa + de guinea ecuatorial africa central no hay mucha diferenia con vuestra realidad. sepan que muerto no sirve para seguir con el dber nuestro nos quieren muertos los estados homofobos de africa pero no devemos dar le gusto tan facil.muchos abrazos querides y queridxs. sigamos adelante es la lucha.

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