From Learned Helplessness to Hope: A Case Study
Suicide ‘Epidemic’ as a Gender Identity Crisis
Researchers have found that attempted suicide rates and suicidal ideation among LGBTQ+ youth are significantly higher than among the general population (“Suicide among LGBT Youth” n.d) but no one really knows the exact rate of suicides among LGBTQ+ youth. Some of them may never have the chance to come out publicly and many of them keep their gender identity secret or hide it from their friends and families. The premise is that the suicide rates among this group are much higher than statistically shown. Why is this? What is the reason behind the suicide of LGBTQ+ youth?
“That fall, as I thought about (the adolescents that committed suicide), I reflected on how frequently I’m invited to speak at colleges and universities. I address audiences of gay and straight students, and I frequently talk about homophobia and gay rights and tolerance. But I don’t get invited to speak at high schools or middle schools, the places where homophobia does the most damage. Gay kids trapped in middle and high schools would benefit from hearing from LGBT adults — lives could be saved — but very few middle or high schools would ever invite gay adults to address their student bodies…It couldn’t happen — schools would never invite gay adults to talk to kids; we would never get permission.” (Savage & Miller, 2011)
Savage (2010) and his husband, Terry Miller, created a YouTube video about their own experiences being bullied as teens with the goal of reaching out to teenagers who are struggling with their gender identities. In that video, they told about their past experiences of negative attitudes toward them in high school, the life of a young gay adult, their choice to live gay lifestyle, their romantic life, their marriage, and the adoption of their son D.J. This video was intended to reach out to bullied gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, particularly young people. It was an attempt to deliver a simple message about the future: It gets better.
“I wanted to encourage other LGBT adults to make videos for LGBT kids and post them to YouTube. I wanted to call it: The It Gets Better Project. And I wanted us to make the first video together, to talk about our lives together, to share our joy.” (Savage and Miller, 2011)