The diversity of the individuals belonging to the LGBT community is very large. Though the LGBTI individuals are grouped together, a great variation in the experiences and identities are being observed, which are influenced by age, geographical location, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. No doubt, that these individuals have different identities and status but the experience and events regarding discrimination and stigma are almost the same for the individuals belonging to the LGBTI community. The fear of facing discrimination, as well as, stigma often make these individuals more stressful and depressed (Ard & Makadon, 2012). Moreover, it has been observed that the suicide rates are generally higher in the LGBT individuals as compared to the others. So, in this essay we are going to discuss the various contributing factors and issues that are responsible for the high rates of suicides and have major impacts on the lives of the individuals belonging to the LGBT community.
Homophobia that can be defined as the fear, as well as, dislike of the people belonging to the LGBT community, and heterosexism, which is the belief underlying the fact that the heterosexuality is required norm, and it should be assumed as for granted are considered to be the major and common factors for generating negative attitudes towards the LGBT individuals. Moreover, homophobia that is prevalent over the world, challenges the normal lives of both the homosexuals, as well as, heterosexuals personally and socially (Alexander, Parker, & Schwetz, 2015). It has been observed that homophobia is the reason of creating splits between friendships and families, leads to the destruction of the one’s reputation and career, incites suicide and violence, and hinders the process of flourishing as communities and individuals (Skerrett, Kõlves, & De Leo, 2015). Moreover, various studies have shown that the rates of attempted suicide, as well as, suicidal ideation is comparatively higher among the individuals belonging to the LGBT community than the individuals belonging to the general population. Research, as well as, real life events has found that the LGBT individuals possess a high risk of having anxiety, substance abuse, depression, suicidal thoughts, and self harming in comparison to the heterosexual individuals (Figueiredo & Abreu, 2015). Moreover, studies have also shown that the non-heterosexual individuals experiences twice as much violence or abuse involving physical, sexual, emotional, or mental in comparison to the heterosexual counterparts. This discrimination and prejudice contributes towards adding an additional risk on top of the various factors including biological, environmental, social, and psychological that are responsible for causing anxiety, depression, attempt to suicide, as well as, suicidal ideations (Bouris, Everett, Heath, Elsaesser, & Neilands, 2016).
Suicide is considered to be the second leading reason of mortality among the youths mostly in the age of 10 years to 24 years. However, these suicidal rates are about 4 times higher in the LGBT youths than the straight peers. Studies have shown that the attempts to suicide by the LGBT individuals have 4 to 6 times higher chances of causing injury, overdose, or poisoning, which requires the immediate treatment in comparison to the straight peers. Further, the studies have shown that around half of the transgender youth population have serious suicidal ideation and thought of committing suicides, and about one quarter of them were reported to made a suicide attempt ("Facts About Suicide", 2016). There are various factors that are responsible for higher rates of suicidal attempts and suicidal ideation amongst LGBTI individuals when compared to the general population. Negative attitudes and behaviors towards the individuals belonging to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersexual community put them at a higher risk for having suicidal attempts and suicidal ideation (Yadegarfard, Meinhold-Bergmann, & Ho, 2014). It has been observed that the LGBTI individuals experience discrimination and stigma throughout their life spans, as well as, are potential targets of physical and sexual harassment, assault, harassment, and hate crimes. Further in the population of the LGBT individuals, about 75% of the individuals in the community setting were found to suffer from verbal harassment. Whereas, one-in-seven experienced physical attacks. Other contributing factor that was considered to be causing agent for high suicide risks of LGBTI individuals was internalized homophobia (Gibbs & Goldbach, 2015). Moreover, family support is also considered to be the main LGBT suicidal risk factor. Studies have shown that the LGBT individuals who experienced severe rejection from their families had 8 times higher rates of suicidal attempts as compared to the peers belonging to the families who showed no or little rejection (Falletti, 2014). It has also been observed that LGBT individuals have higher risk of facing violence in comparison to the general population. Violence can involve behaviors like bullying, harassment, teasing, and physical assault, which are contributing towards the suicidal attempts of the LGBT individuals. (Khoury, 2014)
According to Rosenstreich (2013), around 80% of the young Australians who were having same-sex attraction, as well as, gender questioning experienced public insult, about 20% of them explicit threats, about 18% of them had physical abuse, and 26% experienced bullying, rejection, and different forms of homophobia. According to the survey that was conducted before the 2011 survey the common types of abuse that were experienced by the individuals belonging to the LGBT community in the 12 month period were non-physical including verbal abuse (25%), physical violence threats, harassment (15%), as well as, written abuse (7%). Each episode and event of LGBT victimization, like physical abuse or verbal abuse, harassment, or assault, increases the instances of self-harming and having suicidal thoughts by 2.5 times (Rosenstreich, 2013).
In 2005, about 45% of lesbian, gay, or bisexual individuals had made suicide attempts in the US, which was far higher than the suicidal attempts made by heterosexual individuals that found to be only 8%. Further a study conducted in the year 2009 found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths facing high degree of rejections from their families are having 8.4 times higher chances of attempting suicide in comparison to the LGBTI individuals whose families have accepted the sexual orientation of their children. The Stonewall Survey in the year 2012 found that about 3% of the gay males and about 5% of the bisexual males had attempted suicide, compared to about 0.4% of males belonging to general population ("Suicide and the gay community | Gay Activist", 2016). Further it has been observed that the 6% of the individuals from 16 to 24 year belonging to the bisexual and gay community had attempted suicide which was low in general population males with only less than 1% of the population (Worthen, 2012). On May 8, 2013, it was reported by The Independent that around 300 people or more were admitted to the hospital per day because of self-harming, and has been increased about 50% in the past decade. A fresh survey conducted in January 2014 by The Independent reported 40% of the LGBTI individuals were involved in suicide attempts. As per the New York Times report in August 2016 on the LGBTI teenagers in the US it was observed that 40 % of the LGBTI teenagers had seriously considered committing suicide with about 29 % of the LGBTI who had made suicide attempts and tried to harm them in the past 12 months ("Suicide and the gay community | Gay Activist", 2016).
Hence, the increased risk of ill-health mentally and increased suicidality observed amongst LGBT individuals is not because of sexuality, gender, or sex identity of themselves but is due to the exclusion and discrimination experienced by the people belonging to these communities. Exposure, as well as, fear of isolation and discrimination can have a direct impact on the mental health of the LGBT individuals, resulting into psychological distress, stress, and suicidality (Guarnero & Flaskerud, 2014). National Strategy for Suicide Prevention is the strategy that addresses this issue and outlines the various national strategies to guide and adopt various actions for preventing suicides. This strategy comprises of 13 goals, as well as, 60 objectives having four basic strategic directions, which are empowerment and wellness, support and treatment services, prevention services, and research, surveillance, and evaluation (Matsubayashi & Ueda, 2011).
LGBT young adults as a group is observed to experience higher rates of suicidal behavior when compared to other youth. Various studies observed that LGBTI individuals have about one and a half to about three times higher chances of having suicidal ideation as compared to the non-LGBTI individuals. Further, various research studies also showed that the LGBTI young adults are having one and a half to around seven times high rates of suicide attempts than the individuals belonging to the general population (Lytle, Vaughan, Rodriguez, & Shmerler, 2014). Hence, based on these higher rates of attempts to suicide among the LGBT individuals youth, as well as, on the basis of the relative seriousness associated with their suicidal attempts, it is evident that the LGBTI individuals experience a higher rate of suicidal deaths as compared to the non-LGBTI peers. Stigma, as well as, discrimination are the factors that are directly linked to the high risk for the suicide attempts. Discrimination has very strong relation with the mental illness, while heterosexism can lead to the family rejection, isolation, and lack of access of the LGBTI individuals to receive the culturally competent care (Klein & Golub, 2016). It is very important to eradicate these issues that are faced by the people belonging to these communities forcing them to commit suicides. Suicide prevention strategies and programs are the effective measure in diminishing these kind of risk factors, as well as, in building certain protective factors that can help to improve the quality of living of these individuals and can cause the upliftment of the standards of their living (Yip, 2011).
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