LGBTQ Suicide Prevention
Every forty seconds we lose someone to suicide. LGBTQ youth are 3.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth. For this reason, we raise LGBTQ Suicide Prevention with our new teal, purple and rainbow ribbon pins.
June is the month to celebrate and advocate for LGBTQ lives. It’s a chance to bridge the gap through conversations that promote awareness. Everyone has a role to play in creating stronger communities.
So, how can you help with suicide prevention? Is there anything you can do?
Yes, you CAN make a difference.
With all the information available, how do you find the best ways to support the LGBTQ community?
Understand the Impacts of Mental Health
The importance of educating yourself is boundless. The first step is to become informed. Read, watch, and listen to the information key organizations and activists share. Try to empathize with the stories of those affected by suicide. Though it may be uncomfortable, it is necessary.
According to the CDC, there has been a 33% increase in suicide from 1999 to 2019. Suicide caused over 45,000 deaths in 2019, in the United States.
Though suicide has no race, ethnicity, gender, or age, it disproportionately affects the LGBTQ community.
LGBTQ youth are 3.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth. While their adult counterparts are twice as likely to attempt suicide compared to straight adults.
Young people are struggling the most. Mental Health America reported that from January to September 2020, 77,470 youth reported experiencing recurrent suicidal thoughts, including 27,980 LGBTQ+ youth.
For these reasons, it is more important than ever to promote visibility to the community this June. Dedicating time to uplift LGBTQ voices and celebrate their lives, culture and rights is crucial. Join activists and allies in spreading awareness on the disparities LGBTQ people face.
Experts are only scratching the surface in understanding the impact of the 2020 pandemic on mental health. But we know that suicide is still one of the leading causes of death among LGBTQ people. Your chance to stand in solidarity with the community and get involved is now.
How You Can Support the LGBTQ Suicide Prevention in the Community
Anything you can do to raise awareness is a notable contribution. Talk about mental health openly and keep the conversation going. Support local advocacy efforts and spread positive information through your social channels.
In normal circumstances, members of the LGBTQ community have the least amount of access to help. The pandemic has worsened matters for them. Many people no longer have access to normal resources and forms of support.
Anti-LGBTQ attitudes in local communities and globally lead to internalized hatred. This increases the levels of stress and suicidal thoughts.
To aid in suicide prevention, everyone should learn the signs and symptoms of mental health issues. Understanding the risk factors and warning signs of suicide can help save a life.
1. Risk Factors
Research has shown that LGBTQ people are at a higher risk for suicide. People contemplate suicide for many reasons. There is a direct correlation between severe environmental stress and emotional suffering as contributing risk factors in people contemplating suicide. These stem from the stress of being part of a stigmatized minority. Exposure to risk factors can lead to suicidal thoughts.
Risk factors can include:
- Life-changing events
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Mental health conditions that go untreated
- Physical health conditions
2. Warning Signs
Personality or behavioral changes are key indicators someone may have suicidal thoughts.
These changes include but are not limited to:
- Becoming irritable
- Being anxious
- Avoiding interaction with friends or family
- Sleeping excessively or not sleeping at all
- Mood swings
- Speaking negatively about themselves
3. Support and Advocacy
Signs that something is wrong can be difficult to notice. If you notice these behaviors, talk to your loved ones. Take what they are saying seriously. Work hard to keep them safe.
Enhanced social support can lead to increased self-acceptance. Advocating for the safety and inclusion of sexual and gender minorities can encourage the start of a support network. This network can include family, friends, and allies.
How You Can Help a Loved One in Need
If a friend or family member has been struggling and you want to help, but you’ve never experienced suicidal thoughts yourself, you may not know where to start.
It is normal to feel helpless in this situation. There is no standardized approach to help someone contemplating suicide. There are many things you can do.
This is how you can help:
- Pay Attention to Language and Behavior: Those contemplating suicide often talk about it in vague ways. Alarming mood and behavior changes can also be a red flag.
- Offer Your Support: Let them know you care about them. Help them understand they are not alone. Empathize with them.
- Encourage the Help of a Professional: Suggest the help of a professional while reminding them of your limits. A therapist can offer proper solutions to their anguish. Therapists have the correct tools to help support those with suicidal thoughts.
If your friend or family member is reluctant to get help, offer to help them find a therapist. Offer to take them to their appointments. Support them through the entire process.
Spread Awareness for LGBTQ Suicide Prevention
While LGBTQ suicide is a significant public health crisis, it is also a preventable one.
Help promote social awareness by wearing an LGBTQ Suicide Awareness Ribbon. With increased awareness and social acceptance, you can help save a life. Join in the efforts in spreading awareness for LGBTQ suicide this June and remember that you are not alone.