Nearly half of LGBTQ youth in South Korea have attempted suicide at some point in their life, according to activists.
The startling statistic comes as the LGBTQ rights organization Chingusai sets up a hotline for youth, the BBC reports. Surveys for the group show 45 percent of LGBTQ individuals under the age of 18 in the country have attempted to kill themselves, and 53 percent have attempted self-harm.
Public attitudes in the Southeast nation remain dated and homophobic. The BBC featured the story of Kim Wook-suk (a pseudonym), a gay man who after being outed at work was fired and kicked out of his home. His boss told him homosexuality was the cause of AIDS. His mother told him, “I don’t need a son like you.”
Kim grew up in a Protestant church in the Asian nation, where about 20 percent of the population attends some type of church.
But activists at Chingusai say they are hopeful the hotline will help individuals in similar situations to Kim know they are not alone.
"They usually talk about feeling alienated, isolated, feeling like they are a burden to someone," said Dr. Park Jae-wan, who works with the Connecting Hearts service. “They feel distant as their teachers, friends, or family do not understand or are ignorant about what it means to be LGBTQ."
South Korea decriminalized homosexuality in 2003, but discrimination remains widespread and legal, Park said.
"We need to seriously think about how to embrace sexual minorities and think about what they need," he said.
If you are a trans or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide, Trans Lifeline can be reached at (877) 565-8860. LGBTQ youth (ages 24 and younger) can reach the Trevor Project Lifeline at (866) 488-7386. You can also access chat services at TheTrevorProject.org/Help or text START to 678678. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 can be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities.