When writer Nicole Cliffe asked her Twitter followers on Monday about “the kindest thing a stranger has done or said to you,” she received an inspiring response from a former LGBTQ bookstore manager that went viral — and highlighted the necessity of suicide-prevention resources.
“Oh God I can’t even tell this story and not cry,” wrote the ex-manager, a gay man from Chicago who goes by the Twitter handle @TweetChizone.
While working at the bookstore one night, he said he received a call from a man who said he might be gay and was “considering self-harm.”
“We were not a crisis center! But as long as we’re talking, he’s safe, right?” @TweetChizone continued in a tweet that has received more than 30,000 likes as of Wednesday afternoon.
The man said he kept the caller on the phone by answering his questions, even though there were several customers in his store. @TweetChizone said that a few minutes later, “this angel of a woman puts her hand on my shoulder and asks for the phone. 'My turn,' she says.”
"And SHE, this 50-something lesbian talks to this stranger on the phone. And a LINE FORMS BEHIND HER. Every customer in that store knows that call, knows that feeling, and every person takes a turn talking to that man,” he continued. “That story comforts me so much to this day.”
Gays and lesbians are among the U.S. subgroups at an increased risk of suicidal behavior, according to a 2012 report by the Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. And a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Adolescent Health found lesbian, gay and bisexual youth aged 12 to 14 are much more likely to die by suicide than their heterosexual peers.
Kevin Wong, head of communications at The Trevor Project, a national crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization, said stories like @TweetChizone’s underscore the importance of support systems for LGBTQ youth.
“One supportive person can decrease the chances of LGBT youth attempting suicide by 30 percent,” Wong told NBC News.
After his tweet went viral, @TweetChizone — who did not respond to NBC News' request for comment — encouraged people who were touched by his story to follow The Trevor Project on Twitter and donate to the organization, which focuses on LGBTQ youth in crisis.
According to Wong, the Trevor Project offers different options for LGBTQ individuals who are contemplating self-harm or otherwise need help. Such individuals can reach counselors via a hotline, an online chat or texting.
“If they don’t feel comfortable talking on the phone because they have different abilities or they’re worried about being misgendered, they have options,” Wong said.
Tanis Fowler, a Toronto Star journalist, was one of the people inspired by @TweetChizone’s story.
“This is why community and visibility matters. So much,” Fowler tweeted. “I’m gonna go donate to some LGBTQ organizations where I am rn.”
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide or self harm, you can connect with The Trevor Project by calling (866)-488-7386 or by visiting thetrevorproject.org.