We all know how difficult being a teenager can be. Between the clicks in school, the hormones and finding their own sense of identity, teenagers have a lot on their plates to deal with. When you add being LGBTQ to all those other things, it can make being a teenager very difficult. This can make LGBTQ teens at higher risk for suicide and substance abuse than their heterosexual counterparts.
LGBTQ teens are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. Almost all teenagers go through some form of bullying or harassment, but LGBTQ teens can go through more specific and sometimes more vicious bullying. According a 2009 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 7,000 LGBTQ middle and high school students aged 13–21 years faced major opposition due to their orientation. Eight of ten students had been verbally harassed at school, four of ten had been physically harassed at school, six of ten felt unsafe at school, and one of five had been the victim of a physical assault at school.
If these school situations weren’t enough for a teenager to deal with, sometimes LGBTQ teens faces opposition at home as well. According to PsychCentral.com; young LGBTQ adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were more than 8 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, nearly 6 times more likely to report high levels of depression, and 3-4 times more likely to use illegal drugs or having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse, compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection.
So if you look at the types of bullying a LGBTQ teen may face in school and then the rejection they may face at home, there could be no escape. This could feel extremely overwhelming for a teenager and suicide may seem like the only option. If suicide is not considered as an option to “deal” with the bullying and rejection, a lot of LGBTQ teens turn to substance abuse. According to another study conducted by the CDC, 7,000 seventh and eighth-grade students from a large Midwestern county examined the effects of school climate and homophobic bullying on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and found that LGBTQ youth were more likely than heterosexual youth to report high levels of substance use.
In this day and age with so much national attention on school violence, no student, LGBTQ or not, should be scared at school or should face violence in school. Unfortunately since LGBTQ is not a protected class in many states in discrimination and hate crime laws, many bullying situations involving LGBTQ victims are pushed aside and not dealt with properly. It is so important that all LGBTQ supporters who may know any LGBTQ teens and young adults pay very close attention to possible suicide signs such as threats, seclusion, sadness/depression, dangerous behavior, preparing or some sort of physical trauma. Also, be aware of substance abuse signs such as a sudden changes in behavior.
We must all stick together and put an end to bullying in general and make sure we let all LGBTQ youth know that it will be ok and there isnothing wrong with them. They are simply who they are meant to be.
If anyone needs any suicide prevention information please check out these following websites and numbers –
- The Trevor Project – http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ (LGBTQ suicide prevention hotline)
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this blog, check out my past blogs on Back2Stonewall. Also, check out my weekly LGBTQ podcast – Our View with Tim and Jill. It airs live each Saturday at 1 pm EST. Listen while we discuss many important LGBTQ topics such as HIV, same-sex parenting, marriage, and many more. You can listen live through www.blogtalkradio.com each Saturday at 1 and make sure to check out the complete Our View archived catalog at www.ourviewtnj.com or though iTunes.