Struggling with sexual identity is a difficult challenge. Although our society has become more accepting of gays and lesbians, it still has a long way to go. When it comes to depression, being a member of the LGBT community is not a ticket to ease in dealing with it.
Depression accounts for between 20 and 35 percent of all suicide deaths each year and number more than death from motor vehicle accidents. But statistics are even worse for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
For example, we know that adolescence is a difficult time but for those in the LGBT community, it can be especially challenging. Attitudes toward differentness, cultural stigmas, and increasing bullying, teasing and physical violence lead to more LGBT youth finding the teenage years most difficult and creating a rise in depression.
A 2009 survey of more than 7,000 LGBT middle school and high school students between the ages of 13 and 21 found that, because of their sexuality, in the previous year 8 in 10 had been verbally harassed at school, 4 in 10 had been physically harassed and 1 in 5 had been physically assaulted. Six in ten felt unsafe in school. And depression lurks around the corner.
Often there is also the component of how parents respond to their teen. If a negative reaction takes place on learning their teen is gay, often the response is throwing the child out of the house or the child running away. Because of this, it is important for parents to foster healthy, positive and supportive environments for their child. They need to talk openly about any difficulties the child might be having, always watchful of signs of bullying and taking immediate action should any hint of something occur.
LGBT youth themselves can seek help through an online resource e- The It Gets Better Project – which has become a worldwide movement in which a cross section of individuals share their stories of overcoming bullying and harassment and depression, letting kids know that things do get better.
Being gay and depressed is difficult. However with understanding parents, good teachers, supportive friends and excellent resources, it can be a time of great growth.
Filed under: Clinical depression, health, Mental health, mental illness, Parenting, stigma Tagged: | bullying, depression, gay, gay teens, health, LGBT, mental-health, parenting, teen depression, teen suicide