Coming Out Overwhelms Many Teenagers

Gay teens have a much higher risk of committing suicide than their heterosexual peers. The reason is mainly mental stress before and after their coming out. Scientists are calling for more prevention and a fundamental rethink on family and society values.

To determine one's sexual orientation is one thing. The other one is to reveal this to family, friends and the social network. Many young homosexuals still find it difficult to overcome these hurdles. Too many fail in it and attempt to take their own life in consequence.

The risk of suicide attempts among young homosexuals is two to five times higher than with their heterosexual peers. The Department for Preventive Medicine of the University of Zurich has conducted an in-depth study in Switzerland. In numerous interviews with teenagers after suicide attempts, the researching doctors went after the reasons for the act. The results of the study were published in Geneva.

The main reasons for suicide attempts are usually problems in the social environment - be it with family and friends, or at school and at work. Too often, teenagers feel rejected by family or friends. The consequence of this rejection is obvious: The teenager falls into isolation and loneliness.

This leads many gays into depression that tends to result in increased suicide fantasies. This cycle must be counteracted, demand the researchers. Suicide prevention for gay men and lesbian women should be brought into much sharper focus.

In addition to prevention, further and fundamental changes in society are needed, say the scientists. Despite positive development, the climate for gays and lesbians is still perceived by a majority of the gay community as hostile and risk laden.

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