What protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youths from considering suicide and, conversely, what makes them most vulnerable to it?
The question is of paramount concern because these youths are at least twice as likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youths, prompting the national "It Gets Better Project" with encouraging video messages from such public figures as Lady Gaga and President Barack Obama.
Now the first longitudinal study to look at suicide ideation and self-harm in this population shows support from friends and family offers the most protection in preventing youths from thinking about suicide. Adolescents who know they can talk to their parents about problems and know they have friends who care about them are less likely to consider ending their lives, according to new Northwestern Medicine research.
Adolescents most likely to consider killing themselves and engage in self-harm behaviors are those who feel victimized for being gay. About 94 percent of LGBT youths have had at least one experience in which people said cruel things to them, spit on them, destroyed their property and threatened or assaulted them – all related to them being gay, according to prior Northwestern research.
Suicidal thoughts are a key predictor of a suicide attempt. Cutting behaviors also are a risk factor.
Previous studies of LGBT adolescents looked at their risk of making suicide attempts, not predictors that make them vulnerable to it or protect them from it.
"Our research shows how critical it is for these young people to have social support and for schools to have programs to reduce bullying," said Brian Mustanski, associate professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "We believe this will help save young lives."
Mustanski is the lead author of the study, which is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
For the 2 1/2-year study, 246 Chicago-area sexual minority youths, ages 16 to 20 at enrollment, were interviewed at five time points, six months apart. Most prior research on LGBT populations has been with adults, but Mustanski emphasized the importance of studying adolescents, since suicide is the third leading cause of death among all youth.
HOW TO OFFER SUPPORT
When a child comes out to parents, a good reaction is one of acceptance instead of judgment, noted Mustanski, who is a clinical psychologist. "This lets teens know their parents are approachable for support and are unconditional in their love," he said. An example of an accepting response is, "You are still the same child as you were before you told me, and I love you just the same."
Parents also should be aware that they play an important role in helping to prevent their child from being bullied and in promoting their child's mental and physical health. As with all kids, it's important for parents of gay teens to monitor and teach them about safer sex to avoid HIV/AIDS, Mustanski said.
Mustanski directs Northwestern's IMPACT program (impactprogram.org), whose website is a source for youth, their families and policy makers to learn more about the health and development of LGBT youth. The site's content for youth includes engaging videos and games on issues like coming out, having healthy relationships, and dealing with stress and bullying. The IMPACT Program conducts health research and translates the findings into interventions to improve the health of sexual minority people.
Marla Paul | EurekAlert!
Self-organising system enables motile cells to form complex search pattern
07.05.2019 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Mouse studies show minimally invasive route can accurately administer drugs to brain
02.05.2019 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...
With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.
Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...
'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.
However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...
Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future
When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...
Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells
The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
17.05.2019 | Materials Sciences
17.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
17.05.2019 | Materials Sciences