Editor's Note: Guest blogger Charles Robbins is Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project.
At The Trevor Project, we listen to young people every day who confirm exactly what the new study from the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, led by Caitlin Ryan, reveals: for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth, family rejection can be deadly. Family rejection is one of the top five issues that our 18,000 plus callers per year talk about on The Trevor Helpline. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth already face unique social challenges with their peers. When lacking supportive home environments as well, they often report feeling isolated, depressed, helpless and hopeless. These feelings can lead to thoughts of suicide, which is why it is vital that organizations such as The Trevor Project exist.
The Trevor Project operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth. The helpline is free and confidential, and young people can speak with trained, volunteer counselors about anything at any time. Counselors can also connect callers with local community resources in order to help them find long-term support options and LGBTQ-oriented organizations.
Just this month, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) released a new publication funded by Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that addresses the special concerns related to suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth. It remains disheartening that LGBTQ youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and as evidenced by Ms. Ryan's study, those who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to do so.
This is a preventable epidemic and the key to ensuring all young people are healthy and happy is to foster safe, accepting and inclusive environments for them, at home and at school. This can be achieved at home when parents communicate with their children, love them unconditionally and embrace them regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. At school, educators can turn to The Trevor Project for essential tools to identify and help youth in crisis, and guidance on how to encourage students to create accepting environments for their peers.
Life is so valuable; yet in America alone, 32,000 people die by suicide each year. Our young people today are the leaders of tomorrow; yet suicide is one of the top three causes of death among 15 to 24-year-olds and the second leading cause of death among college campuses. Thankfully, The Trevor Project offers young people hope and someone to talk to 24/7.
We can all do our part to help combat suicide by recognizing warning signs, reaching out to people who might be at risk and helping them find resources. Some warning signs of suicide include a tendency toward isolation and social withdrawal, substance abuse, expression of negative attitude toward self, expression of hopelessness or helplessness, loss of interest in usual activities, giving away valued possessions and expression of a lack of future orientation. If a young person you know is exhibiting these signs, they can call The Trevor Helpline at 866-4-U-TREVOR. To learn more about suicide warning signs and how you can help, visit our Web site at TheTrevorProject.org. Together, we can all create positive change and save young lives.