by: Michael Duffy
As the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis, comes to a close it may be a good opportunity to reflect on the need for mercy within our own families and communities on behalf of our LGBT young people.
The sad statistics are that while suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24, LGBTQ youth are at an even higher risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, suicide attempts, and suicide. A nationwide study of young people in grades 7–12 found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual peers. Additional studies are needed to better understand the risks for suicide among transgender youth but estimates vary from 25 to 40% who have attempted suicide. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) point out that, “How parents respond to their LGB teen can have a tremendous impact on their adolescent’s current and future mental and physical health. To be supportive, parents should talk openly with their teen about any problems or concerns and be watchful of behaviors that might indicate their child is a victim of bullying or violence… If bullying, violence, or depression is suspected, parents should take immediate action, working with school personnel and other adults in the community.” http://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm.
Parents who are looking for information on ways to support their LGBT children can consult the Trevor Project, a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. http://www.thetrevorproject.org/.
Another excellent source of information is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and their publication Helping Families to Support Their LGBT Children, authored by Caitlin Ryan, PhD, ACSW and found at http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/PEP14-LGBTKIDS/PEP14-LGBTKIDS.pdf.
And finally, The Family Acceptance Project, reminding us that LGBT+ kids who are rejected by family are 8.9 times more likely to attempt, offers information for families and parent groups. http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/