Youths who are members of the LGBTQ+ community are prone to bullying, which later leads to suicidal thoughts. Here we look at gay bullying and suicide.
There are critical stages in life where one seems not to come to terms with everything happening to them. One of such stages being the teen years. It’s during this stage when most people develop their personality and understand their sexuality. At this stage, lots of young youth feel lost due to emotional and physical changes. While trying to come to terms with these changes, some become more prone to bullying than others.
Regarding the National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2019, not less than 39% of respondents had serious suicidal thoughts within the past 12 months. However, suicidal behaviors caused by bullying such as gay bullying do not go unnoticed. This article provides relevant information on everything you should know about suicidal thoughts caused by gay bullying and how you can help the victim.
What Is Gay Bullying?
Generally, bullying means tormenting someone intentionally with intentions of harming or intimidating someone. Bullying can be in terms of threats, insults, or physical violence. There are other types of bullying, such as cyberbullying, meaning being harassed online. In this case, gay bullying is directed at persons thought to be or are members of the LGBTQ+ community.
In this context, “gay” is used as a general word rather than homosexual boys. 90% of LGBTQ youths have experienced bullying at school due to their gender identity or sexual orientation, with two-thirds having experienced sexual harassment, including inappropriate touching.
Effects of Gay Bullying
While there are common consequences brought by different kinds of bullying, such as low self-esteem, isolation, depression, and suicidal thoughts and actions, there are some added consequences associated with gay bullying. As mentioned, it’s during the teenage years where most people develop feelings and engage in romantic relationships. Unfortunately, most LGBTQ+ youths do not get the much-needed support for their sexual orientation and partners.
Lack of this support combined with bullying may lead to depression and suicidal thoughts or attempts. Additionally, LGBTQ+ youths who experience bullying in their school are likely to pull out or engage in substance abuse. To minimize the chances of these youth developing mental health issues, family support, healthy peer relationships, and an inclusive school environment are the key.
Warning Signs of a Suicidal Teen
Suicidal behaviors do not go unnoticed. If you are keen on behavioral changes and notice some of the following behaviors, you should seek help since the teen might be suicidal.
- Writing or talking about suicide: If they shift from talking more about their future and start making statements such as “I won’t be here for long,” or “I’m tired of living like this”, figure out how to help them since they might be planning to attempt suicide.
- Isolating themselves: If you are aware that they are experiencing bullying and all of a sudden they start isolating from other people, including those who support them, they might be contemplating attempting suicide.
- Increased alcohol and other substance use: Most suicidal individuals develop an increase in alcohol consumption and substance abuse due to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. If the habit goes unnoticed and these substances take control of the person, they can commit suicide.
- Mood swings
- Giving away their belongings without any logical explanation of their actions
- Engaging in risky activities
- Possessing things that can be used to commit suicide, such as rat poison, rope, among others
- A sudden change of normal routines such as eating and sleeping patterns
- Personality change, for example, from a jovial to a dual personality
What to Do If You Suspect Your Teen Is Suicidal
If you have the slightest idea that your teen might be suicidal, talk to them immediately. Do not shy away from mentioning the word “suicide.” Ask them about their feelings and allow them to explain without interrupting or dismissing their problems. Ensure them that they have your unending love, and you will help them overcome whatever they are going through.
Remember to incorporate your doctor to assess the problem and guide you on how to go about it. Remember that most suicidal teens are also depressed, and hence a professional mental health practitioner may be of great help in ensuring their safety and recovery.
How to Prevent Teen Suicide
The following are some steps to help in preventing teen suicide:
- Support them: Support from loved ones can ease almost everything. Be it bullying or any other kind of harassment; nothing can weigh them down with support from those who matter to them. Let your teen know that they have your support, and they will gather energy to overcome whatever may come their way.
- Discuss mental health and suicide: This discussion will help you understand where your teen stands as far as this matter is concerned. Let them know that depression and suicidal thoughts are common but not giving in and finding help is important.
- Be attentive: Never take what your teen says as a by-the-way thing. Be attentive to their behavioral changes and negative talks and find help immediately.
- Discourage isolation: Most suicidal teens contemplate murder when they are isolated. Ensure that they are always around people who love and support them instead of sitting alone in their locked rooms.
- Monitor how they use social media: Besides providing support, social media can make a teen more vulnerable to cyberbullying. Ensure that you monitor how they use social media to avoid such cases.
- Store firearms, medication, and alcohol away from their reach: If you possess any firearms, ensure that you lock them where no one else can get a hold of them. Alcohol and medication should also be stored safely to avoid overdosing and abuse.
Administrations should work together with involved parties to ensure that there are no cases of bullying. No one deserves to be humiliated no matter what they are going through or who they are. Everyone has a right to be who they are and be happy to be productive and achieve their goals, and this can only be when we all stop bullying.
Read more: How to Become an Ally to LGBTQ+ Youth