With media reports of suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth becoming increasingly common, communities are grappling with the urgent need to identify interventions to prevent suicide and suicidal behavior among LGBT youth. However, until today, no “Best Practices” have been identified or designated to help reduce vulnerability and risk among LGBT children, youth or adults.
Although recent media attention has focused primarily on the impact of bullying on self-harm behavior. suicide is typically the result of many interacting factors including depression, substance use and despair, in addition to environmental stressors. These complex interactions underscore the need for comprehensive suicide prevention strategies and interventions to change the environment at the systems level. For LGBT youth, family systems are especially important.
For the past decade, the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) at SF State University, under the direction of Dr. Caitlin Ryan, has been studying the impact of family acceptance and rejection on suicide risk among LGBT youth. Published findings from these studies point to the critical role of families in both contributing to and protecting against suicidal behavior and risk among LGBT young people. FAP’s multi-disciplinary team has been developing resources, interventions and strategies to help diverse families reduce risk and to promote their LGBT children’s well-being.
The first of these resources – a multi-lingual, multi-cultural series of family education booklets – Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Families Support their LGBT Children – have been designated as the first “Best Practice” resources for suicide prevention for LGBT youth and young adults by the national Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention.