Three segments of the LGBT community and suicide

Providing affirming social settings for LGBT elders can help build community, reduce loneliness, and reduce suicide rates. (Photo from the Boston Globe)

Here is the next monthly guest blog from my cousin Brandon Garrick, Masters of Social Work Candidate at North Carolina State University. This blog expands upon his last month’s blog, “Five facts you may not know about suicide, and connection to diversity.” This specific blogs goes into one diversity constituency I work very closely with as a workplace diversity consultant, the LGBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning) community.

Suicide can be a difficult and sensitive subject to discuss in detail as it is a problematic social issue that affects all members of society. I have done various research and have attended multiple suicide prevention workshops and there is one major target population that is always discussed when it comes to suicide. The L.G.B.T.Q. (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning) community is at higher risks for suicide then their heterosexual counterpart. I will discuss three specific areas of the L.G.B.T.Q community that is at severely higher risks of suicide.

1. Youth. L.G.B.T.Q youth have high risks of suicide and contemplation of suicide according to multiple research studies. According to the Trevor Project, L.G.B. youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth. In addition L.G.B. youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth. In a national study, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt,with 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25. For more information on this major area that needs focus, link to the Trevor Project.

2. Rural L.G.B.T.Q individuals. Individuals who identify with the L.G.B.T.Q. community who live in rural areas are at higher risks then L.G.B.T.Q. individuals who live in urban areas. There has been ample research explaining why rural L.G.B.T.Q are at higher risks then their city living counterparts. Research shows that there is generally wider acceptance of LGBTQ people in cities, were there is far less social stigma around sexual orientation. More resources need to be focused on this severely under-served population, made complicated by rural areas often being spread out and difficult to reach compared to concentrated city centers.

3. Older L.G.B.T.Q individuals. Isolation and dealing with multiple physical issues have generally put senior citizens at a higher risk for suicide then younger adults. However the gap is significantly increases for senior members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community. I recently attended a presentation by SAGE (an organization supporting LGBT leaders) that explained why suicide is a major issue for older L.G.B.T.Q members. One issue is the decreased presence of similar individuals within senior living faculties. The L.G.B.T.Q community is already a societal minority, now imagine being older in a senior living with no other L.G.B.T.Q. seniors among you. The importance of having social relationships is vital to fight depression when it comes to getting older. Research indicates that lack of social relationships is a major issue for older L.G.B.T.Q members. Link to SAGE for various resources.

September is National Prevention Month! Make a difference in someone’s life; if you or another individual are feeling suicidal please call the hotline. 1-800-273-8255

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Guest blogger Brandon Garrick is a Masters of Social Work Candidate at NC State University

Brandon Garrick is my second cousin who I enjoy spending a lot if time with. He recently completed his Bachelor of Sociology at North Carolina State University, and has now entered their Master’s Program of Social Work. He worked full time at North Carolina’s Central Prison as a corrections officer while completing his bachelor’s degree, and has a deep concern about the many social issues facing our nation and the world. He will now be a regular guest blogger discussing these various issues.

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NOTE: The Sept 7-20, 2018 issue of qnotes, North Carolina’s bi-weekly LGBT paper, has several article about suicide and the LGBT community.