A study published this year in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry revealed that “12-month suicidal ideation was significantly higher for both GLB [gay, lesbian, bisexual] and unsure youth . . . Twelve-month suicide attempts were significantly elevated for GLB youth.”
Every fourth gay or bisexual woman and every tenth man has attempted suicide . . . Gay and bisexual men are 2.5 times more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to be subjected to threats of violence, while young gay and bisexual women run twice the risk.
A 2008 meta-study published in BMC Psychiatry found a “two fold excess in suicide attempts in lesbian, gay and bisexual people,” a 1.5 times higher risk for depression/anxiety disorders (at both the 1-year and lifetime marks) in the same group, and a 1.5 times higher risk for alcohol/drug dependence (at the 1-year mark). While the overall results were similar in both males and females, the meta-analysis indicated that lesbian and bisexual women were at particularly high risk for both alchohol and drug dependence and that the lifetime risk of suicide was was especially high in gay and bisexual men.
In response to this situation, a YouTube channel has been created to talk to GLBT and unsure adolescents about the horrors they face every day in an effort to try to keep them from commiting suicide. Here’s a blurb from Free Speech Radio News on
In response to attacks on gay youth, Seattle-based writer Dan Savage launched a video campaign called, It Gets Better. In the first posting online, he and his husband Terry speak candidly about harassment growing up and the fulfilling life that followed.
“If there are fourteen and fifteen and sixteen year olds, thirteen year olds, twelve year olds out there watching this video, what I’d love you to take from it really is that it gets better, however bad it is now, it gets better, and it can get great, it can get awesome, your life can be amazing, but you have to tough this period out and you have to live your life so that you’re around for it to get amazing and it can and it will.”
So far, the channel has received 1.4 million views and people from across the world have uploaded their own videos telling of harassment in high school, the process of coming out, and life as professionals or parents.
One video features two men, JD and Allan, who identify themselves as a 15-year police officer and a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps, who urge youth to accept themselves as they are. Another was made by a 19-year-old Muslim man from Connecticut who describes his painful coming out to his family and his later success in college.
A student named AY from the University of Waterloo uploaded a video. In it she sits next to her straight roommate and says that her feelings of loneliness changed when she got to college.
“I remember when I was in the 10th or 11th grade right after I came out I remember I used to sit and cry all the time because I felt so alone and I was like, I will never find anyone who gets me. I’m black and I’m queer, where the hell am I going to find people like me, just cause the city I lived in. Then I graduated and I cam to a bigger city and I came to a massive university it’s the longest running Queer campus organization in all of Canada. And so all those years in high school when I was sitting there and being like, who understands me and why can’t I find them and where are they? They had been there the whole time waiting for me to get through high school and to graduate and to get up the courage to leave that awful phase behind.”
This is Dan and Terry’s video: