Saturday, June 13, 2009
In today's world, even as awareness and tolerance increase, homosexuality continues to be viewed negatively and through stereotypes. Unfortunately, many of them are treated unfairly throughout society - in church, at school and even in their own homes. At various times homosexuality has been considered a crime, a sickness, a sin or at the very least an abnormality. Given these negative social, religious and familial attitudes it is likely that most gay and lesbian people face difficult and challenging experiences on a regular basis. These youth experience a sense of being different and isolated in the world, and they are at high risk for severe depression and suicide.
Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in America & is high amongst teens. For Teens ages "15-24, suicide is the third leading cause of death (National Center for Health Statistics, 1997)." As staggering as these numbers may appear, it is widely believed that suicide amongst gay, lesbian and bisexual youth is even more profound. According to Gibson (1989) "gay and lesbian youth have a two to three fold risk of suicide" compared to heterosexual youth. In a recent study by Bagley (1994), "5 out of every 8 suicide attempters were gay or bisexual -- or put another way, gay and bisexual youth are 13.6 times more likely to have attempted suicide than their heterosexual counterparts."
Gay & lesbian teens do not want to kill themselves because they are homosexual, but rather, they want to end the pain of constant rejection and abuse. It is not their sexual identity that leads to depression and the wish to die, but rather, the experiences of living in such an uncaring world.