As the Center for Community Healing closes out 2018 they say they are seeing an alarming rise of suicidal thoughts, depression, and self-harm among LGBTQ youth as young as 9 years old. The Center is turning to the community for help with a project aimed at providing hope and changing that narrative for the better.

“When our children cannot see role models and adults who have overcome the same struggles, they begin to feel like there is no hope and it becomes harder and harder to imagine a world where they can thrive,”
notes Chelsea O’Neil Karcher, art psychotherapist and co-founder of the CCH.

O’Neil Karcher says they are looking to gather stories of survival with lists of reasons “why I stayed” from LGBTQ adults who have survived suicidal thoughts and depression. Those stories and lists will be shared with queer youth.

People interested in participating with the project can email O’Neil Karcher at to set up a time to chat. Interviews will be conducted locally. The center is also collecting stories online for folks who are not in the Madison area but want to help (#whyistayedproject and

The anecdotes, stories, and reasons to stay will be compiled to create art, possibly a book or other kind of collection, that can be shared with queer and trans youth who are experiencing hopelessness and despair.

“Many of our young people are at the intersections of race, class, disability, religion, education, rural/urban challenges, immigration. All honest and real stories are needed,” O’Neil Karcher adds.