Saudi Teen Commits Suicide After Coming Out To His Family

"My family threatened to kill me if I ever go back home," wrote Roshan.

As tough as coming out is in the U.S., in other parts of the world it’s a matter of life and death. In Saudi Arabia, a 15-year-old’s family threatened to kill him after finding out he was gay, leading the youth to take his own life. The boy, Roshan, had tried to flee Riyadh for Dubai, but his father reportedly stole his passport.

In January, Roshan pleaded for help in a Reddit post.

“I honestly don’t know why I even told my parents I’m gay, even though I live in one of the most homophobic countries in the world,” he wrote. “I was literally kicked out the house and my family threatened to kill me if I ever go back home.”

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To escape his family, Roshan stayed with a friend, telling their family his parents were just on vacation. “I can’t stay at my friends place forever. And I honestly don’t know what to do. I fucking wanna kill myself.”

As a minor, he couldn’t get a job and felt trapped.

“I honestly have no clue what to do. No friends I can to talk to about this,” he added. “I can’t go to my relatives either cause my parents must have told them about me being gay. I can’t believe one mistake has caused this—I am so done.”

Commenters on the thread offered support, including an American living in Saudi Arabia, who offered to connect him with supportive people that would help get him out of the country.

“I know you’re hurt and upset and in shock– you have been betrayed by the people who should love and accept you,” wrote the American, who also offered to sponsor Roshan. “I know you feel suicidal– those feelings are natural. But they’re not permanent. (I’ve also survived a suicide attempt, and much betrayal at the hands of my family). Please don’t give up!! Go to school with your friend, try to carry on as much as you can your normal life.”

“You have options,” he added. “There are many here will support you with a few dollars, friendship, and good counsel. Hang in there!”

But eventually, Roshan’s friend’s family began asking questions and he reportedly started making tracks for Dubai, with the American reporting Roshan’s mother was helping to locate his passport.

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But two weeks later, Roshan’s uncle Mustafir wrote that he had taken his own life.

“His father [my sister’s husband] threatened to kill him if he ever was found at home. Sadly we couldn’t get him out of Riyadh in time and he was found lifeless in his friend’s house.”

Mustafir found the Reddit thread in Roshan’s emails, and thanked the supporter for helping his nephew. “I’d like to thank you for your support and care. You were the only person who Roshan opened up to and spoke freely. Inshallah he too is looking down on you and thanking you.”

In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is punishable by flogging, imprisonment, or even death. In 2016, the government declared that Saudi citizens who come out online could face the death penalty. Last year the Saudi government halted issuing visas to transgender people for fear they would attempt to make pilgrimage to Mecca.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery