Support for Gay Youth Could Prevent Suicide
The suicide of several gay (or those who are perceived to be gay) youths due to bullying shocked and saddened us all over the last year. Providing a supportive environment for all young people is a necessary role of society.
Support from groups like Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) or the Trevor Project can reduce the inclination toward suicide that many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) youths face due to being ostracized, feeling isolated or depressed.
The tendency in dealing with gay young people in many homes, and even entire segments of society, is to avoid discussion of the issue or to repress it all together. Having grown up in a conservative Christian environment, I know this from experience.
Young people need to be supported by their social structure as indicated by various studies, including a study by Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, Ph.D, published in Pediatrics. Such support indicates drastically reduced instances of attempted suicide by gay and bisexual young people versus their heterosexual counterparts.
This hot-button issue has been manipulated by religious figures and politicians to the detriment of our young people. It has been used to increase the shame, guilt and fear with which they struggle on a daily basis.
We have allowed the loudest voices in our social conscience to make this issue about control and power. It is not really about morality anymore or we would seek to support and strengthen the weakest segments of our society.
Instead, we have made support about approval or acceptance instead of about common human decency and love. Combined with this inequity, we have required silence of those who are week. We have required silence of ourselves. We look the other way. We excuse. We justify. We prejudge.
This study shows how dangerous our action (and inaction) has become. It is my belief that we fear what we do not understand, and we are fearful to try and understand a perspective with which we are unacquainted because it may challenge us to rise above our preconceived opinions and beliefs.
The truth is that any one of us can save a life just by being aware and caring.