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Suicide and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community

The Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center (The Center) often receives calls when tragedy has occurred in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. This is especially true when a friend or family member attempts or commits suicide. In the last few weeks two suicide attempts have led folks to our doors and precipitated phone calls for help.

According to a study conducted by Columbia University and published 2011 in the American Journal of Pediatrics, researchers have confirmed that gay and bisexual teens are more likely to attempt suicide than straight teens – 22% to 4% respectively. Researchers also found that among LGBT teens, those that are around negative environments are 25% more likely to commit suicide than those around supportive environments. Negative environments are settings in where verbal, physical, or emotional abuse by peers and adults take place. Negative environments can also include an extremely conservative household, or emotional abandonment. These negative environments were associated with suicide attempts in non-heterosexual teens even after adjusting for known suicide risks such as depression, alcohol use, and past physical abuse by an adult.

Further, while much research has been focused on LGBT youth, a growing number of studies seem to indicate that LGBT adults are also at risk for increased suicide attempts. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that men who have sex with men (MSM) are at elevated risk for suicide attempts, with such risk clustered earlier in life. Some risk factors were specific to being gay or bisexual in a hostile environment.

It is well known that the LGBT community as a whole is marginalized and denied equal protection under the law. These communal stressors as well as negative home environments put the LGBT community at serious and avoidable risks to suicide. All too often and too late, many of us are left with the same concerns — "What do I do now to help my friend/family member/loved one?” or “How could I have missed the signs?”

We don’t have all of the answers, but we can discuss the questions. The Center will be holding proactive suicide prevention training on the 28th of August. Experts from The Effort and The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will join us to discuss the signs of potential suicide, develop strategies for when someone confides that they are considering suicide, and explore what to do after a member of our LGBT family attempts suicide.

Suicide Prevention Training
Tuesday, August 28

The Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center
1927 L Street
(916) 442-0185

Please join us, and invite your LGBT family, friends, and allies!
To learn more about The Center visit www.saccenter.org

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