By Jake, 26 from Newcastle. 

I was amazed to find out that the number one killer of young gay men was not HIV, it’s suicide, but yet it seems all the gay community talks about is HIV and STIs. You want to talk about stigma? Try telling someone you are depressed and suicidal. Responses I have gotten are “Can you just not get over it?” or “Come on man, just not be depressed” and my favourite was “Just don’t kill yourself and you’ll be fine”. I have been going on the gay scene in London for about three years now and I’ve yet to see a poster, campaign or even basic information about looking after your mental health. Why? Considering the number of gay men suffering from depression, why is there no education, information or support for us?

Let me tell you a bit about me. My name is Jake. I’m 26 years old. I moved to London at the ripe age of 23 when I was young, dumb and wanted to shag as many men as possible. And I did that. I had the best year of my life. Then something happened. I got bored of shagging around and suddenly realised I had no real friends. I had met lots of people and used sex to make lots of ‘mates’ but I had no close friendships. Life suddenly became difficult. 

I tried to make friends with people. I went out, talked to guys but no-one was interested in me unless I wanted to come home with them. I tried to make friends without having sex but it just didn’t work. So I went back to shagging in a bid to make a friend or two. Didn’t work either. 

At age of 25 I started to become a recluse. I stayed in most weekends drinking alone in my flat. My life became a work to home, home to work schedule and before I knew it I was standing on a table with a tie around my neck. I thought it would be best for everyone if I just slipped away. Let’s just say that when I jumped off the table it didn’t work and I ended up with a sore neck and bruised ego. That was my one and only suicide attempt but it doesn’t stop me thinking about it.

About six months ago I started counselling. It’s a massive help. It’s helped me look differently at life. I set myself a goal every day and the aim of the day is to reach that goal. This is probably why I’m still alive. 

The reason I am writing my story is not to look for sympathy but it’s a call out to every gay man out there. Mental health is something that can affect us all. No-one ever told me that depression can come into your life so easily. I thought only weak people become depressed and suicide is for the selfish, but as I stand here as a 26-year-old depressed and suicidal man all I can say is that I’m probably the strongest person I know. Why? Because I am fighting a battle every day. A battle that consists of me forcing myself to take anti-depressants. A battle where thoughts about killing myself remain only thoughts. I have a battle in my workplace as the people around me treat me like I’m some sort of fucked-up mess. I have a battle telling any potential new boyfriend about my depression. I have a battle, a never ending battle but here I am, still alive and fighting. 

I remember growing up being told the gay community looks after each other, but I think this is wrong. We don’t. We are a selfish group of men who just look out for ourselves and to be honest I wish I had learned this a long time ago. If I knew that the only person who cares about me is me then maybe I wouldn’t have let myself fall into depression. Maybe I would have been stronger. 

I would love to see a gay community where I can talk about depression in an open manner without being looked at as some sort of freak, but I can’t ever see that happening. All I ask is that you don’t fall into the same path as me. Be strong and look out for the signs of depression. 

As for me, I’ll keep on living day to day, hoping that someday you will not judge me for being a strong person with a battle. 

What Next?

If you need someone to talk to, there are lots of support groups willing to listen.

- LGBT Switchboard: Call 0300 330 0630 – lines open 10am to 11pm
- Samaritans: Call 08457 909090 – lines open 24 hours a day.
- Sometimes it’s easier to write down your thoughts and feelings. It can help you understand them better. Email [email protected].

If you have a story to tell and would like to share it with OutLife's readers, then email us at [email protected].