New Details Emerge as Officials Rule Leelah Alcorn's Death a 'Suicide'
The Ohio State Patrol completed its investigation into the December 28 death of 17-year-old Union Township trans girl Leelah Alcorn last Thursday, ruling it a suicide. Though the ruling is now technically "official," Alcorn's death has already been mourned by hundreds of thousands worldwide, after her publicly posted suicide note went viral in the days following her death.
The Patrol's 26-page report, as shared by Cincinnati news station WXIX, now offers more insight into the hours before Alcorn stepped in front of a tractor trailer on Interstate-71. Police shared that Alcorn's mother had found a hand-written suicide note reading "I've had enough" on her daughter's bed, which she subsequently threw away after police made a copy.
Additionally, the patrol recovered Alcorn's laptop near the site of her death, which contained conversations with friends. WXIX reports that Alcorn had told one friend she'd reached out to a trans suicide hotline in the days before her death, saying she'd previously prepared to jump off a bridge, but had then called and "basically cried my eyes out for a couple of hours talking to a lady there."
Soon after this call, Alcorn took her own life. Two hours after her passing, a letter titled "Suicide Note" was posted to Alcorn's Tumblr blog, explaining that she was a transgender girl who had experienced painful rejection from her community and family, who she says sent her to conversion therapy to address her gender nonconformity. Her note pleaded for anyone reading to help "Fix society" so that other trans youth could feel safe and accepted.
Following the note's publication, a massive outpouring of grief erupted online with many expressing remembrance of Alcorn, thoughts about suicide prevention, and ire at Alcorn's mother — who has consistently refused to acknowledge Alcorn's trans female identity, name, or pronouns — with the hashtags #LeelahAlcorn and #JusticeForLeelahAlcorn. Hundreds showed up to candlelight vigils worldwide to mourn Alcorn, and to call for the end of conversion therapy for trans and queer youth.
In January, an online White House petition was established to call for a federal law against the soundly debunked practice, which attempts to "cure" LGBT people of their "wrong" genders or sexual orientations through coercive mental and physical practices. Dubbed "Leelah's Law," the proposed legislation's petition gained 100,000 signatures within one month, triggering the White House to formally respond.
In a first for a presidential administration, Obama's senior advisor Valerie Jarrett officially replied on April 8 that Obama's cabinet "share[s] your concern about the potentially devstating effects [of conversion therapy] on the lives of transgender, as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth." Vice President Joe Biden later tweeted, "Leelah is remembered. We should support efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors. #LeelahsLaw." However, no federal legislation has yet been taken under consideration, while only New Jersey, California, and Washington, D.C. currently have state laws prohibiting the use of such "therapy" for minors.
Meanwhile, the "epidemic" of trans youth suicide continues worldwide, with nine deaths reported in the U.S., and many others likely going unrreported or their victims going misgendered in death, according to trans advocates. This week, gaming communities have been mourning the suicide of 23-year-old developer Rachel Bryk, while last month 15-year-old Michigan trans boy Sam Taub took their life, inspiring their roller derby peers nationwide to wear their number 57 in memoriam.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force, a striking 41 percent of trans people attempt suicide each year, a rate that stands at nearly 10 times that of cisgender (nontrans) counterparts.
If you are a trans or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide, Trans Lifeline can be reached at 877-565-8860. LGBT youth (ages 24 and younger) can reach the Trevor Project Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 can also be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities.