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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LGBT Suicides: Aiyisha Hassan, Daughter Of Marin Non-Profit Executive Director, Takes Life

Posted By on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 2:54 PM

Aiyisha Hassan
Update, 10/15: Aiyisha Hassan's memorial will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 16, at the Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church in Richmond, California. Her father, Rev. Kamal Hassan, says that her suicide was not linked to anti-gay bullying, but depression and having ended a "toxic relationship." See our updated post for details.

Original post: 

The rash of young gays and lesbians committing suicide has now struck the country's LGBT capital here in the Bay Area: Aiyisha Hassan, a 20-year-old Marin County native who identified as lesbian, killed herself on October 4. Hassan was a former student at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and the daughter of Makini Hassan, a Marin City non-profit executive director

According to news reports, Hassan was a part of the university's LGBT student group:

Lauren Morris, 21, a senior at Howard, who lived in the same building as Hassan from 2008-2009, said she introduced Hassan to [the LGBT student group] and added that friends have reported Hassan's suicide was related to her struggles with her sexuality."

''She was having a lot of trouble with a lot of different things,'' Morris says, ''but mainly her sexual identity and just trying to express that.''

Hassan attended the school from 2008-2009, according to the college's newspaper, but had returned home to California. Howard students held a vigil for her last week.  

While few details have come out about her death, Hassan comes from a prominent Marin County family. Her mother is Makini Hassan, the executive director of Marin City Community Development Corporation. According to the non-profit's web site, she was formerly the chief of career services at Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties, partnering in programs with City College of San Francisco and the San Francisco District Attorney's office.

Makini was previously the Chief of Career Services at Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties. In that capacity the division developed a certified retail management training that was supported by an advisory board of top retailers in the city and the national retail federation. The division also expanded  the agency's truck driver training to include a truck driving simulator in partnership with City College of San Francisco, and further developed the program to include logistics sector training. The division also partnered with the city's District Attorney's office in implementing Back on Track, a successful nationally recognized  program that provides intensive services and support to recent court accused offenders, and the re-entry community.

Hassan's memorial is tomorrow in Los Angeles, but her family is planning one on Saturday here in the Bay Area. We'll update with the details on that as soon as we have them.

Hassan's death is the third reported youth suicide from Marin in recent weeks. Alex Moore, a senior at Terra Linda High School hanged himself from a water tower in San Anselmo on October 1, leaving several notes in his backpack nearby. Then on Sunday night or Monday morning, a male 8th grader hanged himself a few blocks from Miller Creek Middle School. No reports have said whether the students identified as LGBT, or whether bullying was a factor.

Update, 10/13: Cristin Brew, the program director at the Spectrum LGBT Center in Marin, says there is no evidence that LGBT issues played a role in the two teen suicides. "There are absolutely no details and it doesn't seem like the two teens that committed suicide in Marin in the past week or so were LGBT-identified or that they were bullied."

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