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New suicide prevention strategies needed for homosexual, trans youth

Homosexual, bisexual and transgender youth tend to have a higher risk for suicide-related thoughts and behaviors, but research on interventions to prevent suicide among sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth has been limited. A new research is now stressing that there should be focus on interventions specifically targeted to SGM youth and their unique and diverse challenges, including health needs.

Homosexual, bisexual and transgender youth tend to have a higher risk for suicide-related thoughts and behaviors, but research on interventions to prevent suicide among sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth has been limited. A new research is now stressing that there should be focus on interventions specifically targeted to SGM youth and their unique and diverse challenges, including health needs.

In a study published in LGBT Health, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, Kimberly McManama O’Brien, PhD, and colleagues from Simmons School of Social Work, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and The Fenway Institute, Boston, MA, and Norfolk State University, VA, emphasize the importance of strengthening family support and acceptance as part of a positive intervention.

In “Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Suicide: Understanding Subgroup Differences to Inform Interventions,” the authors suggest that research on suicide prevention strategies take into consideration factors such as race and ethnicity, which may affect suicide-related outcomes.

“One’s racial, ethnic, and religious minority status is usually shared with one’s parents who can buffer the impact of related stigma and discrimination. SGM status, however, usually is not shared with parents and is often concealed from them,” said LGBT Health editor-in-chief William Byne, MD, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY.

Families may also contribute to, rather than buffer against, SGM-related stress. As such, the article by O’Brien and colleagues is on target in pointing out the critical need for an intersectional approach to suicide prevention research in SGM youth with a focus on building family support.

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