The suicide statistics are grim enough when you look at all of New Jersey’s youth – 291 lives lost between 2016 and 2018 – but a closer analysis of the numbers reveals that the threat of suicide is even greater among young gay men, bisexual and transgender. queer or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBTQ youth seriously consider suicide at nearly three times the rate of heterosexual youth, and they are nearly five times more likely to have attempted suicide. The Trevor Project, a national nonprofit focused on suicide prevention among the LGBTQ population, estimates that at least one LGBTQ youth attempts to kill themselves every 45 seconds in the United States.
This is the second part of a four-part series on youth suicide in the Garden State. Join Eric Scott on air and online at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 30 for a live conversation with New Jersey advocates and medical professionals on this growing problem.
“They hear negative comments from their families, they hear it from school, they hear it from the community, they hear it from society,” said William Placek (he / him), president of PFLAG Jersey Shore, New Jersey 101.5.
Gender identity or sexual orientation, Placek noted, is at the heart of oneself – and if it cannot be accepted by one’s peers or in one’s own home, “children may reach the point where they just have it. feeling like there is no way out. “
Placek admits he frequently had suicidal thoughts as a young gay man – the son of a Baptist pastor, Placek struggled with his faith because he “was told I was going to hell for who I was” .
“I had no way of seeing that I was going to live a happy and successful life, because everything around me was telling me I was wrong,” he said. “It is essential that children receive the love and acceptance of their families when it comes to their LGBTQ + status.”
Acceptance among young LGBTQ people is greater than ever these days, Placek added. But, he said, acceptance is not universal.
Physical or verbal harassment of LGBTQ youth more than doubles the likelihood of self-injurious behavior, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
“It’s devastating to think about the resilience these young people need to survive in this world,” said Christian Fuscarino (he / him), executive director of Garden State Equality.
Throughout their young lives, Fuscarino said, LGBTQ youth may encounter people who are homophobic, transphobic, or have prejudices against them.
In 2019, New Jersey became the second state in the country to pass a law requiring public schools to incorporate an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum into their classrooms. The law was rolled out as a pilot program in a dozen Garden State schools.
“We should do everything possible to create a safe and stimulating environment for these young people to learn,” said Fuscarino.
The third part of this series will examine the efforts of schools to prevent suicide among young people.
- Hope Line for Suicide Prevention in New Jersey: 1-855-654-6735
- Crisis text line: Text New Jersey To 741741
- National Hotline for Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-TALK
- 2nd Floor Youth Helpline: 1-888-222-2228
Project Trevor can connect individuals to an emergency counselor 24/7 – phone, chat and texting options are available.
If your life or someone else’s is in imminent danger, call 911.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at [email protected]
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