The LIAAC Blog

News and thoughts from the Long Island Association for AIDS Care

Keep Talking: Suicide and LGBTQ Youth

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By Sara Guando

There are some words commonly associated with a person’s passing: elderly, sick, disease, “it was his/her time…” Sadly, too many Long Islanders know someone who does not fit these terms.

Would you be surprised to know that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States? Even more alarming, data shows suicide is on the rise. Since 1999 US suicide rates have increased every year leading to a 15-year high in 2014. On average, 121 Americans die by suicide each day.  This spans across people of all genders, social-economic statuses, and ages. However, there are groups disproportionately affected by suicidal thoughts and actions; veterans, middle-aged men, and LGBTQ population – particularly LGBTQ youth.
Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are up to five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to their heterosexual peers. 92% of transgender individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25. LGBTQ are at increased risk for being exposed to bullying, teasing, harassment, and physical assault. Ensuring LGBTQ feel safe emotionally and physically are basic measures friends, family members and the community can take in supporting LGBTQ youth and preventing depression, substance use, and suicidal thoughts or actions. Dr. Gail Barouh states that “the numbers regarding LGBTQ suicide are staggering. We are on the right track with prevention and support but we must continue to make sure LGBTQ youth know they are in a community that loves and accepts them. We also have to educate society as a whole about this issue. These statistics are unacceptable.”

Looking for good news? Prevention is possible. Knowing the warning signs and risk factors are often first steps in helping someone who may not be reaching out for help. More importantly, being open, non-judgemental, and accepting is an essential step whether someone is reaching out or not. Often, we believe that “we all have problems” and minimize the effect certain issues are having on a person because of how we believe we would respond to a similar situation. Remember, that individuals respond to every situation differently, especially when they are younger or have different life experiences. It’s okay to ask for help. Providing a support system, being non-judgemental, and finding resources for help are essential ways which we can all prevent suicide. This September, LIAAC joined the awareness efforts of National Suicide Prevention Month. On September 17th, LIAAC staff participated at Long Island Crisis Center’s “Let’s Walk Let’s Talk” event in Long Beach. This was a community event focused on education, prevention and advocacy for Long Islanders in need. Since 1971 Long Island Crisis Center has provided help to Long Island through their 24/7 free and confidential suicide prevention and crisis intervention hotline.When a disproportionate number of LGBTQ suicide calls were being received by the Crisis Center’s hotline Pride for Youth was established in 1993 to serve Long Island’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their families. Since our beginnings; LIAAC, LICC, and Pride 4 Youth have all expanded their programs and services to fit the needs of Long Islanders. LIAAC staff described “Let’s Walk Let’s Talk” as a unique opportunity to meet and have open conversations with fellow Long Islanders about the realities of suicide and ways to prevent it.

So, let’s take the suggestion of LICC – Talk about it. If you are concerned about a loved one, asking/reaching out is not going to cause them to think about suicide but it may help them feel supported enough to be honest and seek help.

If you, or someone you love, needs help or may be contemplating suicide see information below for where to get help. You are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Long Island Crisis Center 24/7 Hotline: 516-679-1111
OR visit longislandcrisiscenter.org to speak to a counselor from any computer, tablet or smart phone.

For more information on risk factors and/or warning signs, visit:

https://afsp.org/about-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs/

For more information on LGBTQ youth and how to support, visit:

http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm

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