Are gay people more likely to kill themselves? Could attraction towards someone of the same sex lead to a higher likelihood of self-injury or death?
Many studies say yes. To ask why this happens and what we can do to change it, we must delve deeper.
Suicide is a leading cause of death among young adults. Contributing factors include depression or mental illness, alcohol or drug misuse, family history of violence, physical illness, and social isolation. Young gay people who are marginalized face significantly higher risks.
The first step to addressing the problem is to understand it. Mental health is one pillar that, along with physical and social health, constitutes one’s wellbeing. We have identified both risks and protective factors regarding mental health and suicide. Now we must use this information to act.
I argue that the single most effective solution to improve the mental wellbeing of the gay community is to expose and appreciate the normalcy of being gay: i.e. to normalize gay.
This includes any public visibility, from ‘coming out’ stories and Mr. Gay events to the fight for same-sex marriage. Importantly, it is our community’s responsibility to be on the lookout for warning signs of mental illness and give help and support to those in need.
To learn more about suicide or if you or someone you know is in need of assistance, click here to find a crisis centre near you.
Mr Gay Europe 2013