Can We Prevent Youth Suicide by Promoting Inclusivity?

A just-released study in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” shows that American LGBTQ youth are at a markedly higher risk for suicide than their heterosexual peers. Based on 2015 survey data, these findings are perhaps unsurprising for members and allies of this group, but the authors note that little formal research has specifically examined how sexuality or gender identity impacts suicide risk.

Unfortunately, youth of minority sexual or gender identities are only one vulnerable group at an overly high risk for suicide. North of the border, indigenous Canadian youth also face serious mental health risks. In fact, several First Nations leaders have declared their communities to be in states of emergency due to the rising suicide crisis.

In fact, both American and Canadian societies seem broken in their inability or unwillingness to effectively deal with the obvious pain facing so many community members.

Yes, there’s a certain amount of mystery as to why some people kill themselves. Many who successfully end their lives do not leave notes behind, and sometimes little is known about their ongoing pain, even by close families and friends. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Suicide rates for certain demographics are at several times their respective national averages. Clearly, some of these lives could be saved.

Increased suicide rates are often tied to precipitating social factors including prejudice, discrimination, bullying and harassment, as well as economic and social support policy. What this means, ethically, is that our failure to be inclusive and provide necessary supports comes with an easily calculable death toll.

There has been some — justified – criticism of last year’s Netflix show about teen suicide, “13 Reasons Why“. One argument the show makes, however,  is that often there is a reason why – be it bullying, economic hardship or bigotry.

Suicide is also a canary in the coal mine, signaling higher rates of depression and unhappiness within vulnerable groups. We can’t treat mental health issues as an unknowable mystery when we can clearly how our actions play a role.

So, what kind of a community do we want to inhabit, and how are we working to get there each and every day? That’s a question we will need to ask ourselves until every member of society feels equally strongly that life is worth living.

Photo Credit: ANDRIK LANGFIELD PETRIDES/Unsplash

60 comments

Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks for posting

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DAVID f
Dave fleming7 months ago

THANK YOU

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven8 months ago

thank you

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven8 months ago

thank you

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven8 months ago

thank you

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Jerome S
Jerome S8 months ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S8 months ago

thanks

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Paulo R
Paulo Reeson8 months ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo Reeson8 months ago

ty

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Maureen G
Maureen G8 months ago

I was once told .....that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It's dealing with that temporary problem that is the issue and often it takes just one person to listen - actually listen - to your so called temporary problem to take you past that crises point in your life.

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