Though Tony Perkins’ theory on why gay kids try to kill themselves (i.e. because they are gay and everyone is telling them they cannot change it) has been disproved by The Science already, allow us to take another look at research that completely debunks the theory that being LGBT alone puts young people at a greater risk of taking their own lives.
The new study “Suicide and Suicide Risk in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Populations: Review and Recommendations” (from “26 leading researchers, clinicians, educators and policy experts”), to be published in this month’s Journal of Homosexuality, concludes that it is not a person’s sexuality that is linked to suicide, but the stigmatization and discrimination put upon LGBTs that makes them feel it’s the only way out.
“Although multiple studies point to elevated rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse among sexual minority people,” reads the study’s abstract, “the panel found that these problems, by themselves, do not account for the higher rates of suicide attempts that have been reported by LGBT people. Thus, the consensus report identified stigma and discrimination as playing a key role, especially acts such as rejection or abuse by family members or peers, bullying and harassment, denunciation from religious communities and individual discrimination. The report also highlighted evidence that discriminatory laws and public policies have a profound negative impact on the mental health of gay adults.”
(Notably, the study also calls for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, due in 2013, to stop classifying transgender people as having a mental “disorder.”)
Indeed, the study specifically cites “individual discrimination” and “institutional discrimination” as the causes of this stigmatization of queer youth, and says “mental disorders constitute the single largest risk factor for suicidal behavior,” not sexuality. However, mental disorders — such as depression, anxiety, and drug and alcohol abuse — were more prevalent among non-heteros, as was the likelihood of having multiple disorders.
But the key conclusions, as Perkins seems to continually miss (or purposefully obstruct), are that suicides and suicide attempts among LGBT youth are linked not to sexuality or gender identity, but to all the fucking stress and ostracizing that people like Perkins promote and facilitate.