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‘It Gets Better’ videos may decrease suicidal ideation, but effects are minimal – study

Video narratives featuring coping might have some potential to decrease suicidal ideation and encourage help-seeking among vulnerable youth identifying with videos, but effects are small and short-lived.

Photo by daniel james from Unsplash.com

Video narratives featuring coping might have some potential to decrease suicidal ideation and encourage help-seeking among vulnerable youth identifying with videos, but effects are small and short-lived.

This is according to a study – “Effects of ‘It Gets Better’ Suicide Prevention Videos on Youth Identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Other Sexual or Gender Minorities: A Randomized Controlled Trial” by Stefanie Kirchner, Benedikt Till, Martin Plöderl, and Thomas Niederkrotenthaler – that appeared in LGBT Health.

For this study, the researchers conducted a double-blind randomized controlled trial on-site in Austria and online in German-language settings from January to November 2020 with LGBTQ+ youth (14–22 years; n = 483), randomized to an “It Gets Better” project (IGBP; n = 242) or control video (n = 241). Suicidal ideation (primary outcome), help-seeking intentions, hopelessness, mood, and sexual identity were assessed at baseline, postexposure, and 4-week follow-up.

The researchers found:

  • no overall effect on suicidal ideation, but nonbinary/transgender individuals experienced a small-sized improvement
  • an indirect preventive effect on suicidal ideation through the degree of identification with the protagonist in the video
  • improvement in help-seeking intentions in the intervention group

The “findings show some preliminary “proof of concept” that personal narratives of LGBTQ+ individuals targeting LGBTQ+ youth appear safe and might have some beneficial effect on vulnerable youth,” noted the researchers. “However, the present findings also indicate that the videos did not have any impact on suicidal ideation across all participants, and the effect on help-seeking was small and short-lived.”

So for them, “an emphasis on professional help-seeking might yield larger and potentially more sustainable effects.”

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