African American Gay Teen Commits Suicide

It really feels like this will not end.  Another teen, a 19-year-old former Howard University student Aiyisha Hassan committed suicide on October 4th. She appears to be the seventh LGBT teen to make the headlines for committing suicide in the past five weeks. Some reports suggest the former HU student was struggling with her sexuality.

“She was having a lot of trouble with a lot of different things, but mainly her sexual identity and just trying to express that,” says 21-year-old Lauren Morris, a fourth-year student at Howard, who lived in the same building as Hassan from 2008-2009. Hassan was a former biology student at D.C.’s Howard University.

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Morris says she introduced Hassan to Howard’s LGBT student group, and both attended meetings. There are still little details on why Aiyisha Hassan’s committed suicide. The University’s student newspaper, The Hilltop, reported that students there held a candlelight vigil for her Oct. 7, the Thursday following her death.

Hassan’s father, Rev. Kamal Hassan of the Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Calif., says those struggles may not have been primarily societal. While declining to discuss details of his daughter’s suicide beyond mention that her brother discovered her body, Rev. Hassan said that he does not believe bullying or harassment played any role in his daughter’s suicide.

“She got into a relationship with someone that just was not a healthy relationship for her,” Hassan told Metro Weekly. “That relationship came to an end and she was planning to move back home.”

Hassan said Aiyisha was accepted and loved by her family as a lesbian, and that she was raised in a welcoming household while growing up in Marin County, Calif.

“I can understand how people who don’t know Aiyisha and don’t know her family life could uncritically link her death to the tragic suicides that have been happening among gay and lesbian youth,” he said. “I can see how people could mistakenly make that link, but the death of every gay young person isn’t necessarily for the same reason. She was not under any heavy bullying or harassment that I knew of. She never spoke of it if she was.ff

Rev. Hassan has a really great point but I don’t think he gets “it.”  A suicide is, in fact, a suicide but its not always about getting bullied, entirely, but I think it’s the trouble of being gay in a world where you don’t have many people to turn too; Its about limited support. For example, if you’re straight and you have a really bad break up, you may be able to go to your parents or close friends that may understand, or someone that can tell you that it gets better. I don’t think Aiyisha had that. As supportive as Rev. Hassan has said the family was, it seems Aiyisha felt alone – extremely alone.

I don’t want turn this blog into a blog filled with obituaries but I feel dedicated, and compelled to let people know when a gay teen commits suicide; the world needs to know.

For those teens, gay or straight, that are thinking of committing suicide, it does get better. Check out a message from President Obama and the video my friends and I did to help stop teen suicide. Suicide should not be your last and only option. 


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  • Actually, I don't think you get "it". My niece was not alone. She called her parents and then me to tell me of her breakup. Because she felt a little uncomfortable, I stayed on the phone with her for over a half hour while she waited for her brother to pick her up to bring her to his home. The next day, Sunday, her sister came and spent the day and night with the two of them, to offer support, talk about how she felt and her future plans. She decided to move back to Northern California the coming week to work and continue her studies. The next morning, believing that Aiyisha was okay, her brother and sister went to work. Her brother, stayed in contact with her by calling every hour and speaking with her. When he called and didn't get an answer, he came home and found her.

    Aiyisha had what most African American lesbians pray for; an immediate and extended family that loved and embraced every part of who she was and that welcomed her partner into the family. In addition, there have been (we lost two from AIDS in the 90's) and are other gay persons in our family.

    My question to you is why do you think Aiyisha was alone and feel so secure in that thought that you stated it as fact? You did not know her and what you said about her and my brother-in-law was inaccurate. Perhaps you should take the time to get 'facts' before you comment on them.

  • In reply to Milbus:

    First, Milbus, let me say that I'm really sorry for your loss. And, even though I don't know Aiyisha, at all, I still think of her as apart of my LGBT family. It pains me to no end that LGBT teenagers are committing suicide for whatever reason, and this is my way of promoting awareness - telling someone's story - to help prevent the next suicide.

    I really want to be clear that I never stated that I knew exactly how Aiyisha was feeling or had felt. My point was, and still is, your brother-in-law stated that her death had nothing to do with the string of other gays and lesbians committing suicide because she wasn't bullied in any way. What I tried to make clear was that I don't think he got "it." I don't think he gets why LGBT people are committing suicide, even if they're from a loving family home. Of course, this particular situation has nothing to do with being bullied online or an unloving home but, perhaps, it was, in some way, a different type of bullying - internal bullying. My thoughts are that when people committ suicide, they may not always be alone physically but, maybe, moreso, alone emotionally. And, maybe that caused her to take her life. Maybe she couldn't find anyone that really truly understood the way she felt. This is no fault to the family or close friends but maybe she felt no one was there that truly understood her.

    Like you said, I don't know her nor do I feel my thoughts or opinions should be considered "facts." They're nearly just that, my opinions.

    But, thank you so much for shading some light on this. Now, people can truly know what happened to her on her last days.

    We will miss her.

    Lenox M.

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