The suicide rate amongst teenagers is a growing problem in America. For teenagers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), the suicide rate increases significantly; two to seven times higher than the national average. Prevention of suicide is a key focus of schools, parents, and researchers, as it should be according to a new study from the IMPACT Program of Northwestern University. The study, released today in the Journal of Preventive Medicine, examined the suicide rate in youth ages 16 to 20, and what factors reduced the likelihood of suicide.
Coming Out To Parents Is Traumatic
Dr. Brian Mustanski, head of the IMPACT Program, conducted a 30 months study of 246 Chicago area teens. These teens were evaluated every six months, for a total of five evaluations. The teens were asked questions about their mindset, their lives, and their experiences. This study marked the first study on young people in the LGBT community, as most studies focus on adults, and the suicide rate among adults.
The biggest factor uncovered by researchers was the way in which parents handled their children ‘coming out.’ The decision to reveal yourself as LGBT to friends and family is stressful for anyone, but for teens, it can be a crippling event as they attempt to shape their adult lives. Teens with parents who were accepting of their child’s decision to ‘come out’ showed a lower rate of suicide, suicidal thoughts, and self-inflicted pain, such as cutting.
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