Data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance shows that nationally, LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth. A new prevention plan by the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition says, “Utah consistently ranks in the top ten in the United States for suicide deaths. LGBTQ+ adults and youth experience a significantly elevated risk for suicide and suicide behavior.”
The most significant area for improvement the prevention plan highlights is a need for comprehensive education among healthcare providers about LGBTQ+ individuals, their particular health needs, and the barriers they face in accessing care. Ray Bailey, a co-chair of the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition’s LGBTQ+ Work Group, shared his findings with The Salt Lake City Tribune.
The strategic plan focuses on:
- Increasing availability and access to quality physical and behavioral healthcare
- Coping and problem-solving skills
- Adoption of safe messaging principles in the LGBTQ+ community
- Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions
- Reducing access to lethal means
- Support for survivors of suicide loss
The prevention plan also highlights the necessity for more awareness of LGBTQ+ identities on an individual level. Ideally, all members of the community will confront stigma and discrimination whenever they encounter it. “Making sure that we’re challenging when others around us may say things that are homophobic and are not accepting of LGBTQ people…” is important, Bailey told The Salt Lake City Tribune. “So on a smaller, more-one-on one scale, being more supportive of LGBTQ people and making sure spaces feel safe for them.”
Continuing stigmatization is one of the main reasons lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning youths are more likely to experience poor health than their heterosexual (straight/cisgender) peers, including a greater likelihood to have substance use and mental health issues as compared to their cisgender counterparts.
In 2019, gender identity and sexual orientation were added to Utah’s Student Health and Risk Prevention (SHARP) survey for the first time. The survey found that 11.8 percent of high school students in Utah identify as not heterosexual. It also revealed that bisexual students reported the highest percentage of suicidal ideation at 52.5 percent, followed by gay and lesbian students at 47.6 percent. By comparison, 15.3 percent of heterosexual students reported suicidal thoughts.
Reducing risk factors and enhancing protective factors are critical in preventing suicide in the LGBTQ+ community. The prevention plan emphasizes, “It is not enough to focus on one risk factor, one protective factor, or one of the levels in which risk and protection exist. Efforts must work to address as many factors in as many settings as possible and create a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention.”
|Protective Factors||Risk Factors|
|Family Acceptance||Mental Health Concerns|
|Connectedness||Alcohol and Drug Misuse|
|Sense of Safety||Prejudice and Discrimination|
|Access to Competent Mental Healthcare||Social Isolation|
In addition to our addiction treatment program, Recovery Ways recently created a standalone mental health program for those struggling with depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mood disorders without a substance use disorder (SUD) diagnosis. Our trauma-informed, clinically integrated treatment program has made us a trusted partner with patients, referents, and payers for more than a decade.
SUICIDE PREVENTION SYMPOSIUM
OCTOBER 30, 2020, 9 AM–12:30 PM MT
$20 registration fee
Proceeds benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), Utah Chapter
Recovery Ways is partnering with AFSP on a virtual presentation for professionals that will offer evidence-based treatment modalities effective in diagnosing behavioral health disorders, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal behaviors.
- Safety planning
- Counseling on access to lethal means
- Caring contacts
- Safe care transitions
Suicide, depression, and addiction are very closely correlated, impacting professionals, veterans, musicians, and a myriad of other individuals. We will explore causes, theories, and treatment approaches for those who struggle with suicidal ideation. In addition, we will include treatment options for suicidal clients’ families.
Jaime Vinck, MC, LPC
CEO, Recovery Ways
Kim Myers, MSW
Utah Department of Human Services-Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health