Coming out isn't always a party. It gets better, according to a project that aims to inspire hope among LGBT youth facing harassment, but the teenage years can still prove painful and lonely. Last week's episode of Glee, in which the former bully Dave Karofsky (played by Max Adler) attempted suicide after being outed as gay by his high school peers, voiced the issue on a major media platform. The fictional TV show's winter finale surprised viewers with its heavy subject matter.
Today, an article from The Atlantic reports the real-life statistic that LGBT youth are twice as likely to commit suicide as their heterosexual peers. And it discusses new research (subscription required) published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that followed 246 LGBT participants, aged 16-20 years, and found:
General and LGBT-specific risk factors both uniquely contribute to likelihood of suicidal ideation and self-harm in LGBT youth, which may, in part, account for the higher risk of these phenomena observed in this population.
In the piece, Brian Mustanski, PhD, lead author of the study and a psychologist at Northwestern University, also lists ways that parents can demonstrate support of their gay children. He asserts that family love can provide the most important protection from the path toward suicide and even lessen the effects of bullying at school:
If your child does come out to you remember that he's sharing a core part of his identity, so react with acceptance, not judgment. This lets him know that your love is unconditional and that you're available for support as he faces the trials of growing up as a minority.
Bullies: Stand down. Dave Karofsky: Life gets better after high school.
Previously: Medical schools neglect LGBT issues, Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered health issues not being taught in medical school, Apple employees tell bullied teens "it gets better", Advances being made for LGBT medical students and Tim Gunn speaks to depressed LGBT youth in 'It Gets Better' video
Photo by Eddie S.