By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Enid LGBT Coalition will host a teen suicide prevention forum Saturday in hopes of making more resources available to community leaders who work with youths.
“Loss of life is always difficult, but when it involves a young person taking their own life, it is impossible to make sense out of it,” said Enid LGBT Coalition organizers in a press release. “The fight against teen suicide takes constant and continuous effort in order to save lives.”
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for Americans 15 to 24 years old, with more than 4,000 American youths dying by suicide each year.
The risk is significantly greater for teens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or questioning (LGBTQ).
According to data provided by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, LGBT teens and young adults are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide by age 21 than their peers.
Pat Ward, RN, said the first step in reducing the suicide rate for LGBT youths is to open public discussion on LGBT issues related to suicide prevention, and provide community leaders with suicide prevention resources.
Ward will present information at Saturday’s forum on the Trevor Project and the Lifeguard workshop.
According to the press release, Trevor Project is “the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.”
The Trevor Project provides nationwide Project Lifeguard workshops designed to educate teachers, counselors and youth service providers on:
• Examining the impact of language and actions on the experiences and mental health of young LGBTQ people.
• Recognizing the warning signs of depression and suicide among young people and their peers.
• Responding to those warning signs in a way that keeps all young people safe.
Ward said Saturday’s forum will introduce the workshops and LGBT issues to community professionals who work with youth.
Youth are welcome at the forum, but the content is designed for adults who work or volunteer with teens and young adults.
Ward said the forum will “open up dialogue between professionals who work or volunteer with youth, so we can all work together to introduce this information into the community through our schools, youth groups and churches.”
Disseminating resources like the Trevor Project and Lifeguard workshops will “help youth support each other and be able to notice the warning signs of suicide and help prevent it,” Ward said.
Ward said the Trevor Project resources are applicable to all teens and young adults, but are tailored to LGBT youth due to their higher rates of suicide and unique challenges in society.
Ward said LGBT youth often lack the support network needed to prevent suicide.
“LGBT youth face a much more prevalent lack of support at home, amongst friends and in society at large,” Ward said. “They are encouraged to be quiet about their issues, or they feel pressured to not talk about it, and when youth are considering suicide the most important thing is to talk about it so they can get the help they need.”
In order for LGBT youth to be more willing to seek out help, Ward said adults in the community need to better understand LGBT youth and the challenges they face.
“We have to have professionals in the community who will be open and trained to understand issues that might be more common with LGBT youth,” Ward said.
She said Saturday’s forum will highlight the availability and importance of suicide-prevention training and empower youth service providers “to take action in the community and rally the community to take action to prevent suicides.”
The teen suicide prevention forum will be 3-5 p.m. Saturday at YWCA Enid, 525 S. Quincy.
For information, contact Enid LGBT Coalition at (800) 878-5298 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.