A good support system might be the key to helping deter suicide among gay youth, a new study suggests.
The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, evaluated risk factors associated with self harm and suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adolescents between ages 16 and 20.
Support from family and friends often acted as an effective preventive factor against inflicting self-harm and suicide among the population.
Adolescents who felt victimized and didn't have a trusted support network were more likely to have suicidal thoughts and inflict harm, the research suggests.
About 94 percent of LGBT youth have experienced some form of victimization, whether it be name-calling or threats, according to a Northwestern University press release.
The study emphasizes the importance of enhancing the availability of support groups for LGBT youth. In addition, it highlights society's responsibility to increase acceptance and reduce the negative stigma sometimes associated with being gay, bisexual or transgender.
Chicago Tribune columnist Dawn Turner Trice observes that parents of LGBT youth may often not know how to deal with issues and societal pressures their children might face.
But researcher and clinical psychologist Brian Mustanski suggests parents should express support instead of judgment to news of their child's sexuality, according to the Northwestern University media release. The conversation may set the tone for an open, trusting relationship.
Mustanski suggests a response like: “You are still the same child as you were before you told me, and I love you just the same.”
But an effective support system is a two-way relationship.
"...What LGBT youth share helps parents act as a resource for their kids," Mustanski told the Chicago Tribune.
The study followed 246 Chicago-area LGBT youth from 2007 through 2011. The findings were published on Feb. 14 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.