Beyond Homophobia: We need to make it better

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  • Within the past several weeks, seven young men in the United States and two young women in Canada have tragically committed suicide due to homophobic bullying, harassment, and societal prejudice. Research indicates that suicide is the number one cause of death amongst gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth in North America. However, it is not the number one cause of death for heterosexual youth. What explains this difference? Important risk factors for adolescent suicide include experiences of substance abuse, feelings of hopelessness, sexual abuse, a history of family dysfunction, and the recent or attempted suicide of a close friend or family member. In addition to these more general risk factors, sexual-minority youth also face additional distinctive risk factors such as a lack of family acceptance, age at which they come out, gender atypicality, and bullying or conflict because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. On average, sexual minority youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.

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    © 2010 Kristopher Wells. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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    • Wells, K. (2010). Beyond Homophobia: We need to make it better. Ideas Can… Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
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