Family of teen who died by suicide say his gender identity struggles were ‘nothing to be ashamed of’
The family of an 18-year-old who died by suicide in August are using his death to send a powerful message: that gender identity and mental health struggles are nothing to be ashamed of.
The body of Cameron Haswell was found by Surrey Police on August 11 after he took his own life.
His family were later told that he’d been wearing a woman’s jumpsuit when his body was found, and at the inquest they learned that he had a bag of women’s clothes in his possession.
Following the inquest, Cameron’s family have been speaking out to raise awareness about the struggles teenagers may have with their gender identity and their mental health.
Cameron’s sister, Leah, believes that he died by suicide “to send a message [about his gender identity]” as “sadly, he didn’t feel comfortable enough to tell anyone”.
“I think he was very confused,” Leah told local news. “A lot of girls and boys need to know it is not something to be ashamed of and it shouldn’t be a secret.”
Leah added: “It is OK to be confused and say how we are feeling. I do not want families to deal with something like we have and I do not want a child to end up like Cameron did.”
Aunt Nicola, also spoke out about Cameron Haswell “silently struggling with his demons”.
“It would also seem that the possibility that Cameron was struggling with his gender identity is something that we need to consider,” Nicola said. “One of the most painful things to contend with, is that as a family we are open minded and accepting and would never have made Cameron feel anything other than supported and loved in any decision he needed to make.
She added: “One thing that we have all learned from Cameron’s terrible situation is how important it is to keep communicating with your children – even the boys, even when it’s difficult and you feel like you’re not helping, or you’re nagging.
“One small conversation and offer of support could be the difference, literally between life and death. I would also encourage anyone who feels like they have nowhere to turn to stop and think before making a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion.
“Reach out, get help. Stay alive.”
In September, UK trans kids charity Mermaids wrote an open letter to the UK government condemning the suicide rates of transgender youth as a “national scandal”.
The letter also pointed out that, while the overall number of deaths by suicide in the UK fell between 2017 and 2018, the number of under 19’s taking their own lives in the same period rose by 15 percent.
Almost half of young trans people have attempted death by suicide, according to Stonewall research.
The Mermaids letter concluded: “We are at the forefront of one of the greatest civil rights challenges of our time. Young transgender people are losing their lives. Our society must stop failing them.”
The Samaritans are the UK’s suicide reduction charity and their free helpline number is 116 123.
More information about supporting trans children can be found on the Mermaids website.