Being homosexual, bisexual or Transgender is by no means a bad thing, but unfortunately, self-identified gay teenagers are at greater risk to attempt suicide than teens that are straight. Social homophobia, bullying, and many other factors play into some unfortunate statistics. In a substantial study conducted by three researchers, Gary Remafedi, James A. Farrow, and Robert W. Deisher studied a total of 137 gay and bisexual male adolescents aged 14 to 21 and found that 41, or 30 percent, had made at least one suicide attempt.
The researchers saw that suicide attempts appeared to be related to many factors. These factors include:
- Early Self-Identification as Gay: Subjects who had viewed themselves as homosexual or bisexual at an earlier age were more likely to attempt suicide.
- Early Sexual Activity: Teens who had attempted suicide were more likely to have had sexual experiences at an early age.
- Broken Homes: Only 27 percent of suicide attempters had parents who were married compared to 50 percent of the non-attempters.
- Sexual Molestation: 61 percent of the suicide attempters had been sexually abused compared to only 29 percent of the non-attempters.
- Illegal Drug Use: 85 percent of the attempters had used illicit drugs compared to 63 percent of non-attempters.
- Illegal Activities: 51 percent of the attempters had been arrested compared to only 28 percent of non-attempters.
- Prostitution: 29 percent of the attempters had been involved in prostitution compared to 17 percent of non-attempters.
- Gender Conflicts: 36.6 percent of the attempters were classified as feminine compared to 17.7 percent of non-attempters.
These are some shocking statistics, but there are preventative measures that professionals can take to diminish the numbers of suicide attempts among homosexual individuals. Here are some ways to prevent or reduce the number of LGBT Suicides:
- Educating teens on the reasons behind suicide attempts and showing them support are critical to reducing the stress and anxiety they feel about being homosexual.
- Implement training for all staff members to effectively serve LGBT youth by including recognition and response to warning signs for suicide and the risk and protective factors for suicidal behavior in LGBT youth.
- Include information about higher rates of suicidal behavior in LGBT youth in health promotion materials.
- Assess and ensure that youth services and providers are inclusive, responsive to, and affirming of the needs of LGBT youth, and refer youth to these services and providers.
- Develop peer-based support programs.
- Include the topic of coping with stress and discrimination and integrate specific activities for LGBT youth in life skills training and programs to prevent risk behaviors.
- Support staff advocacy for LGBT youth.
- Incorporate program activities to support youth and their family members throughout the development of sexual orientation and gender identity, including awareness, identity, and disclosure. These programs must address young children and adolescents.
- Promote organizations that support LGBT youth, such as Gay-Straight Alliances and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG).
- Institute protocols and policies for appropriate response if a client or student is identified as at risk of self-harm, has made a suicide attempt, or has died by suicide.
- Make accurate information about LGBT issues and resources easily available.
Use an LGBT cultural competence model that enables individuals and agencies to work effectively with LGBT youth cultures.
- Include LGBT youth in program development and evaluation.
- Institute, enforce, and keep up to date non-discrimination and non-harassment policies for all youth.
- Implement confidentiality policies that are clear, comprehensive, and explicit.
- Assume that clients or students could be any sexual orientation or gender identity and respond accordingly.
- Address explicitly the needs of LGBT youth in school-based programs and policies to prevent violence and bullying.
Again, being homosexual or bisexual is not a bad thing. It is a way of life and a sexual preference that should be unaffected by others who view it as wrong and take action on that belief. Subsequently, those beliefs and actions create falsities in the minds of adolescent homosexuals and bisexuals, leading some of them to attempt suicide and, on occasion, follow through with it.
There are countless ways for our society to relieve these adolescents of their pain and put a stop to the discomfort they feel about being who they are.
- LaBarbera, Peter, “Gay Youth Suicide: Myth is Used to Promote Homosexual Agenda,” published by the Family Research Council.
- Remafedi, G., Farrow, J., Deisher, R. (1991) “Risk factors for attempted suicide in gay and bisexual youth,” Pediatrics 87: 869 – 875.
- Bell, A., Weinberg, M.,and Hammersmith, S. (1981) Sexual Preference. Bloomington, IN: Indiana U. Press.