Recent studies indicate that suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) teens are higher than their heterosexual peers.
Raising awareness of this crisis is key. The Trevor Project, a 24 hour, 7 day a week telephone counseling for youth, seeks to create a safe space online and through their lifeline (866-4-U-TREVOR) for LGBT youth.
According to the It Gets Better project, a campaign spearheaded by author Dan Savage in fall 2010, LGBT adolescents often hide their sexuality because they fear bullying, lack openly gay mentors in their lives, and simply can’t imagine a future for themselves.
Savage and his partner know first hand how hard it can be for LGBT teens; their video story was the first of many personal stories told by an array of adults hoping to show young LGBT people they aren’t alone—and that they can be happy and reach their potential if they can just get through their teen years.
A new study, to be published in the May issue of Pediatrics, seems to support the idea behind the It Gets Better project – that if LGBT teens know they have some support, they will be less likely to consider taking their lives.
A total of 31,852 students in 11th grade in Oregon completed the Oregon Healthy Teens survey in 2006-2008. Researchers found that the risk of suicide attempts among LGBT youth living in counties that were less supportive of homosexuality was 20 percent higher than LGBT youth living in supportive counties.
The researchers concluded that policies that create supportive and inclusive environments in schools and communities will not only decrease suicide attempts among LGBT youth, but also among heterosexual youth.
One of my favorite videos from the It Gets Better project—is the personal story of fashion expert Tim Gunn.
Stories like this one make me wonder why society makes life so cruel for our precious children.