Digital Pride shows the importance of talking about your identity, says Samaritans

Samaritans has praised the first ever Digital Pride for giving more people an opportunity to talk about and celebrate their identity. The charity helped promote the week-long festival of online and face to face events, which culminated in a day of celebrations and live streamed panel debates and performances at Heaven nightclub in London on Saturday 30 April 2016.

Digital Pride was created by news and current affairs website Gay Star News in order to give everyone access to a Pride event, simply through owning a smart phone, tablet or PC.

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: “Identity and wellbeing are closely linked – when one is compromised, the other often suffers as a result. Enabling anyone from the LGBTI community to take part in Pride, whether they haven’t had a chance to before, or if it might not be safe or easy for them to do so, means many more people can express themselves and feel accepted for who they really are. As Samaritans, we also want people all over the UK and Ireland to know that we are here for everyone, to talk about everything, and that includes thoughts and feelings around gender and sexuality. We’re looking forward to seeing how Digital Pride develops for next year.”

The Heaven event saw 60 live performers entertaining the crowds, with 33 different speakers taking part in panel discussions, including one on mental health. Panellists suggested that self-medication was widespread in the LGBTI community, with alcohol and drugs being used to cope with anxiety and depression.

Campaigner Jonny Benjamin talked about the effect on him of struggling with his identity: “I had a breakdown over my fear of coming out and needed treatment in a psychiatric hospital. A month in, I wanted to run away and end my life. I realised I would rather kill myself than admit that I was gay. It’s so sad.” He went on to describe how talking to a complete stranger about what he was feeling saved his life.  “This guy spoke to me, he said it would get better. Simple words made such a difference. That was the day my recovery started.”

For more information about Samaritans, go to www.samaritans.org or follow us on Twitter @samaritans. For more information about Digital Pride go to: www.gaystarnews.com/digitalpride

For press enquiries, please call Samaritans press team on 020 8394 8300 or email press@samaritans.org.

 

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Notes to editors:

  • Anyone can call Samaritans, you don’t have to be suicidal. Whatever you’re going through, call us for free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.
  • Samaritans responds to more than 5.3 million calls for help every year, offering emotional support by phone, email, text and face to face in its 201 branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland.  For more information please see www.samaritans.org.
  • It’s the public’s kind donations and more than 21,000 trained volunteers that mean Samaritans is always there for anyone struggling to cope.  Find out how you can support us: http://www.samaritans.org/support-us