The Trevor Project now distinguishes its US and Mexico services as Trevor US and Trevor Mexico. Trevor Mexico operates virtually, according to a Trevor US spokesperson.
The United States’ premiere suicide prevention program for LGBTQ youth opened its first international service on National Coming Out Day, October 11, offering free, confidential, 24/7 digital crisis services for LGBTQ youth in Mexico.
Nearly 400 people attended Trevor Mexico’s October 15 opening party in Mexico City. The party featured Latinx American non-binary ballroom celebrity, Valentina, according to Trevor US’ head of international digital crisis services, Jessica “Jess” Leslie. Leslie told Gay City News that ballroom culture is popular in Mexico and is one of the safe spaces for LGBTQ Mexicans.
“It really was an amazing space to be able to celebrate self-expression, individuality, and celebrate everyone for who they are and what they bring,” she said about the event.
Mexico and the US share similar suicide rates. Like in the US, suicide is the second leading cause of death among Mexico’s young people, according to the “Observatorio Nacional del Suicidio en México – SAK Fundación” 2021 report.
Trevor US approximates more than 745,000 LGBTQ youth, ages 13-24, are in crisis in Mexico alone. The service qualified its findings by explaining that it was an approximation due to a severe lack of data collection and research available. The percentage of Mexico’s LGBTQ population that has thought about or attempted suicide in their lifetime is 28.7%, according to the 2021 National Survey on Sexual and Gender Diversity (ENDISEG).
The research by Trevor US was a part of a robust research phase to identify the first country it would choose to open its first international services, according to the organization’s March 9 news release announcing its plans to open its Mexico services. Trevor US examined laws impacting local LGBTQ communities, the need for LGBTQ youth mental health support, operational feasibility, regulatory risk, human resources, and other factors that led to the organization’s decision to select Mexico as its first international location, according to the release.
Working with local experts on the ground in Mexico, the service adapted its US crisis model to a Mexican context, Leslie said. Like in the US, Trevor Mexico plans to rely on a volunteer-based model in which counselors will undergo extensive training and implement an evidence-based crisis support model.
The importance of the project’s life-saving services was instantly felt by Trevor Mexico’s 55 staff members and leaders at Trevor US.
Young LGBTQ people in Mexico immediately reached out digitally through TrevorChat and TrevorText, including SMS text messaging, WhatsApp, and online chat, within the first 24 hours of launching Trevor Mexico, October 11, according to the service.
For privacy and security reasons, Trevor US and Mexico couldn’t provide exact numbers for how many queer and questioning Mexican youths reached out to the service.
“We’ve had a really great reception,” Leslie said. “These are services that are very much needed and that young people, especially LGBTQ+ young people in Mexico, are really asking for.”
Trevor Mexico executive director Edurne Balmori pledged that Trevor Mexico “will strive to end the stigma around the issue of mental health, provide LGBTQ youth with a safe and trusted space, and ultimately save lives.”
Leslie expressed that she hopes LGBTQ Mexican youths use the service “as much as it is needed” and that Trevor Mexico is “able to reach as many LGBTQ+ youth as possible and that we’re able to provide life-saving support where it’s needed.”
“This being the first country we’re going into, I think we really want to make sure that it is used, and it is seen as something that is useful for those in [the] country,” she said.
Leslie praised Balmori’s work using her corporate skills to build the Trevor Mexico team of staff and volunteers.
“She has very personal ties to this work,” said Leslie, who explained that Balmori is “well-informed about the issues facing youth, and also just has a really great approach to work. She’s someone who is very thoughtful and really does bring a trauma-informed perspective to her work.”
Leslie continued expressing the importance of learning and being adaptable as Trevor Mexico evolves under the Mexican team’s leadership.
Trevor Mexico and Leslie immediately knew more needed to be done after the digital help channels opened October 11. Upon opening, the service also received contacts from other Latin American countries, she said.
According to Trevor US, more than 40 million LGBTQ youths around the world “seriously consider suicide each year.”
“People throughout the world have asked for support with services like this,” said Leslie. “It’s something that I wish that all young people had access to. The fact that we’re expanding to another country, especially a Latin American country, is something that I know I’m very proud of.”
Trevor Mexico is supported by several of the existing corporate and technology partners at Trevor US, such as Google.org, which became a lead funder of the organization’s international work renewing its $2 million grant to scale the services’ life-saving work to new international geographies, according to the October 11 release.
For US Crisis Services: If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678.
For Mexico Crisis Services: If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors in Mexico are available 24/7 via chat at TheTrevorProject.MX/Ayuda, via SMS by texting “Comenzar” to 67676, or via WhatsApp by texting 55 9225 3337.