(Home-My Story)....... True, Tragic and Unnecessary Gay Youth Suicide Stories...................... (Español)
PART 2 (page 29 of 34)
For The Parents of Young Children or Teenagers
The Key To A Happy Family - Love Your Children Without Conditions
What Parents of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning Teens need to Know about Suicide
What LGBTQ Teens Wish Their Parents Knew About Their Lives
What LGBTQ Teens Fear Hearing Most From Their Parents
Is the atmosphere in your home a loving and accepting one, one that your children as adolescents would feel that they could confide in you completely and confess that they are or might be gay or lesbian without feeling that they would be doubted, questioned, criticized harshly, rejected and even cast out of the family as a result?
Has the atmosphere you have created in your home been one that they could make themselves completely vulnerable to you and would feel that they would be loved exactly the same after they came out to you as they were loved before they told you? OK, all well and good up to here? But then don't feel too bad if you have provided all of the above and they still come out to their brother, sister or cousin first. All things being equal, they may still prefer to tell another member of the family closer to their own age and life experience. And try not to over obsess about any mistakes you may have made in what you said or did before or after your child came out to you. If you love and give unconditional support to him or her with all your heart, your kid will see that and will understand that you're doing your best you can; you are both entering a brave new world.
The Key To A Happy Family
I found the following excellent advice in "Always My Child" by Kevin Jennings with Pat Shapiro (M.S.W.) and I want to share it with you parents, other family members or friends:
The key to a happy family - and happy children - is the parent. Your family is the primary source of your child's self-acceptance and self-esteem. A parent's approval signals to a child that she [or he] is loved, valued and accepted. Every child wants these things, but few worry about them as intensely as children who are LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning]. After all, few issues are as central to teenagers' self-esteem as how they feel about their sexual selves. Feeling good about one's sexual identity is one of the most critical challenges of adolescence. And the odds are against that happening easily for LGBTQ young people in today's society.
All the research shows that the need for affirmation from parents grows more intense as children become teenagers. Adolescence is a time of healthy and exciting exploration: Who am I? What are my true interests? What makes me happy? These are questions teens must answer. Consistent acceptance and support at home is the best way for them to investigate these issues and to begin to draw some conclusions. (1)
Love Your Children Without Conditions
Loving your children without conditions is the love that prepares them for dealing with the outside world and all it's pressures and lack of love. Loving your children without conditions is the love that prepares them to have a good life whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight or transgender. And if your child is either gay, lesbian, or transgender it doesn't mean that you did anything wrong. You didn't make any mistakes. That is just the way they were mostly born. And now they need your love and acceptance more than anything.
Loving your LGBTQ child without conditions "can help prevent the kind of hopelessness and isolation that Tina, a seventeen-year-old lesbian, experienced: 'A day in which the issue of sexual orientation is not mentioned or spoken about in school would be unusual. Every day I am forced to listen to the unaccepting or ignorant people around me. There seems to be no escape. Lately I've started to lose hope altogether. It feels like nothing I can do will make a difference. If I confront the homophobia round me, it takes up all my time and energy, and I feel totally alone in doing it. Furthermore, the students have no reason to listen to me. I am not a teacher, not an adult. I don't have power here.'" (2)
So we have seen that loving our children unconditionally also includes our gay children, right? But for many parents it's still up for debate. Click on the link below to take you to a great article by Kristen Ferrari entitled "Loving Your Children Unless...."
The gay child. Does anyone want one? Is a gay son better than a gay daughter or vice versa? Or are both equally undesirable? It was a conversation I had with a friend of mine, a friend who happens to be gay, that makes me ask the question. For the record, he believes that no parent wants a gay child. I happened to disagree. Click Here to continue reading.
From a Counselors Point of View
Whenever, in counseling, one has the good fortune to encounter psychologically healthy homosexuals, sure of their own dignity and their power to love and to be loved, one can be almost certain that their parents, whatever their disappointment over their children's condition, have responded to them with true acceptance and love. Parents of a homosexual have no reason to assume guilt for their child's condition; but parents of a psychologically healthy homosexual have a good reason to believe that they have done their difficult task well. (3)
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Click Here to read about the study that reveals for the first time the positive impact that a supportive family can have on the physical and mental health of gay, lesbian and bisexual children - The Protective Effect of Family Acceptance for Gay Teens by Alice Park from TIME Magazine.
How not to react when your
child tells you he's gay - Dramatic live recording - YouTube Plus
A Gay Dad's Beautiful Response to the Rejection
Parents of LGBTQ Teenagers and Suicide
"I was trying to figure out how I fit into the world and I just felt like I didn't fit"
According to the Centers for Disease Control/Massachusetts Department of Education Youth Risk Behavior Survey, done in 1999, 33 percent of LGBTQ youth will attempt suicide during their adolescence - well over four times the rate of their heterosexual peers.
That means your child is in a high-risk group for suicide.
Jared's story will illustrate how very common suicidal thoughts are among LGBTQ teens. Now twenty, Jared thought about suicide at many points in high school. He remembers, "There was a time in my life where a day wouldn't go by that I didn't want to kill myself because I just felt so isolated and so alone. Every problem seemed ten times bigger at that time. The smallest thing would happen and I was like, oh the world's going to end. I was severely depressed in tenth grade."
He explains what his depression was about: "I was trying to figure out how I fit into the world and I just felt like I didn't fit. I mean I knew there were other gay people out there, but I didn't know who they were. I didn't see any and I didn't know any so of course, I felt alone."
Jared continues, "Every day, I thought, how am I going to do it? I can remember at one point going to the library and writing a will, deciding who I wanted to give my stuff to and who I'd say my last good-byes to. I never came to actually doing it but I just felt that bad. I just wanted everything to end. I couldn't take it anymore.
"At the time I had to come to terms with I'm not getting married. I guess I'm not going to have kids. I guess I'm not going to do anything. My whole world was shattered because growing up this is what they teach you - that you're going to grow up and get a job and you're going to get married, have kids and raise a family. Now granted, people don't necessarily have to do that but that is so ingrained in you that to wake up and realize, oh, my God, I can't do this. So what do I do? You just don't know."
Jared lived with his depression and suicidal thoughts for almost a year. The turning point came when he confided in a guidance counselor that he wanted to die. With his counselor's support, he started telling people he was gay. Unburdened of his secret and supported by his friends, his depression began lifting. Life didn't seem so bleak. (4)
(the pronoun "she" is used for both male and female children)
Studies show that between 48 and 76 percent of LGBTQ youth are like Jared - despondent and depressed and contemplating suicide but they don't actually attempt it. Between 29 and 42 percent of LGBTQ youth, however, do attempt suicide (the rate for [all] adolescents in general ranges from 6 to 13 percent). (5)
Some of the risk factors for LGBTQ youth are similar to those for all adolescents. They include:
● low self-esteem
● family conflict
● substance abuse
● a past suicide attempt
● a history of attempted or completed suicides among friends or family members.
In addition, there are three stressors unique to LGBTQ youth that make them particularly vulnerable. They are (6):
(1) Their increasing awareness of same-sex attractions. Most suicide attempts are made between the time a teen is aware of her same-gender feelings and the time she discloses them to others or establishes a positive LGBT identity. That is a period of extreme loneliness, isolation and self-doubt.
(2) The disclosure of their sexual orientation to family and friends. Those who attempt suicide are less likely to have supportive parents and a support system of friends. Again. isolation and rejection play a part in motivating suicide attempts.
(3) Victimization provoked by their sexual orientation. Constantly living with verbal abuse, threats of physical abuse, and violence erode teens' self-esteem, increase their sense of isolation and can lead to increased depression. The more teens depart from the typical male and female behavior and dress, the more their peers will reject them and the more isolated they will feel. This is particularly a problem for trans teens.
If your child has some of the risk factors listed above, including those for all youth and those particular to LGBTQ youth, she is vulnerable to suicide. In addition, three warning signs indicate that your child has serious intentions of attempting suicide. These put your child at immediate risk and must be dealt with at once. They are (7):
(1) If your child seems preoccupied with death or suicide in the following three areas:
● poetry, essays or other writing
● the music she listens to or plays
● her conversations
Any talk of suicide must be taken seriously. These are not idle threats or scare tactics. Typical comments include: "I wish I were dead," "You won't have to worry about me anymore" or "Soon I'll be out of your hair for good." Don't dismiss these as idle talk. Address them directly to see if they represent something deeper.
(2) If your child starts giving away prize possessions. If she hands out her favorite CDs, posters of rock stars, or special momentos, that is a serious signal that she is thinking of ending her life.
(3) If your child has a plan. If she has thought about the following, that constitutes an emergency and requires immediate intervention:
● when she will end her life
● how she will carry out her plan
● where the suicide will take place (8)
What To Do In An Emergency
If your child shows any of the above three warning signs, you must question her directly about whether she's thinking of suicide. Child psychiatrist Lawrence L. Kerns, M. D., states clearly in his book, Helping Your Depressed Child, "Talking about suicide will not plant an idea in a child who isn't suicidal and it won't cause suicide in one who is."
Not recognizing that your child is in distress can have serious consequences.
If your child shows you several poems she has written that are very dark and concerned with dying, if she makes some of the comments suggested above or if she starts giving her friends her sports trophies, express your concern and note the behavior. Say, "I'm concerned about you. You seem so preoccupied with death and dying lately" or "I'm worried about you. You're giving away all your favorite things." Then let her respond, keeping in mind that her actions may be cries for help.
Then you must take the conversation one step further. Take a deep breath and ask, "Are you thinking of hurting yourself?" or "Do you ever think of killing yourself?"
If she says, "I am down lately but I'd never hurt myself," you can feel more at ease that she won't do something now. But she must still be evaluated by a mental health professional as soon as possible. You do not have time to cautiously evaluate several therapists. This situation requires immediate action, so call one of the following at once:
● Your family physician for a referral
● A crisis hotline (read about the Trevor Project Lifeline below)
● A suicide prevention center
Follow the same procedure if your child admits she is contemplating suicide.
Ask your teen to establish a contract with you that she won't hurt herself until she talks to you or to a counselor. Be very firm about this. If she says, "I'll try" or "maybe" that means she is still in danger.
If she won't make a contract with you, ask her if she has a plan. Notice how detailed the plan is. If she has thought through how she'll do it, what method she'll use and where she'll do it, contact a mental health professional immediately.
While you are waiting for help, do the following (9):
● Encourage her to talk. Ask her, "Tell me what you're thinking about or what scares you or what bothers you." Look at her and give her your undivided attention. And follow these three "don'ts":
(1) Don't judge her.
(2) Don't deny her reality by saying, "Oh, it's not really that bad." This is how she feels now. If she says, "Things are so bad at school, I just don't want to live," say something like, "I know you're feeling low now and it feels like things won't get better, but they will. We need to ride out this rough time."
(3) Don't tell her how much she has to look forward to or how much fun she'll have next summer on her trip. Stay with her feelings.
● Tell your child how much you love her and how much you'd miss her if she were gone. Say this repeatedly. Trapped in their own pain, many adolescents don't realize that suicide is forever and aren't thinking about the impact of their decision on others. You can say, "Ending your life will stop your pain, but my pain and that of your dad and sister will continue. With you gone there's nothing we can do to end our pain. We love you. You are an important part of our family." This kind of conversation can be a wake-up call to teens who think no one cares.
And if you are a parent who thinks that talk of suicide or even an attempt is just a way to get attention, that should be a wake-up call to you to do just that: give her the attention and TLC she craves.
● State your personal stand on suicide. Tell her that "Suicide is not an acceptable option." Remind her that there are many other ways to manage problems and feelings and that together you'll find out those when she's feeling better.
● If your child refuses to talk with you, tell her you want her to talk to someone and ask her whom she'd like you to call. It could be a grandparent, another relative, a teacher or counselor. Try not to take this as a personal rebuff. The most important thing is that she talks to someone she trusts.
● Do not leave her alone. You or another family member must stay with her until she is in a safe setting.
● Take all guns and medication out of the house. This includes over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, sleeping pills and cold medications, which can be deadly taken in large doses.
If Your Child Has Attempted Suicide
If your child has made a suicide attempt, take her to the closest emergency room immediately. Make sure that she talks to a mental health professional in addition to getting medical care. At some point, you, too, should be part of the discussion so that everyone in the family can understand why this has happened and can prevent it from happening again.
Because a suicide attempt is so frightening to both parents and teens, there is a tendency to deny the seriousness of what happened. Your child may say, "I'm fine now. I won't do it again." And parents, wanting to believe that the situation is not so serious, may agree and say, "She didn't really mean to hurt herself."
This is just not so. A suicide attempt reflects unresolved problems that still exist after the attempt. If the issues are not dealt with, they will remain and can resurface, possibly in another attempt. Before you leave the hospital, make sure your child has a referral for a mental health professional. (10)
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Click Here for the publication which is also available for download entitled Suicide Risk and Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth - Prepared by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center for the Center for Mental Health Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
What LGBTQ Teens Wish Their Parents Knew About Their Lives
● "I wish my mother and my father could see how people treat me - people that I don't even know. I wish they could experience the grief and sorrow, the fear, that I feel every day. I wish they knew how hard I try every day to get just one person to stop using 'gay' as a derogatory remark. I wish they knew how suicidal I once was, how much I used to cut myself, and how hard I try NOT to cut myself when I get terribly mad or upset."
● "In coming out to my parents over the past year, I had almost wished that they had stopped talking to me, because it is much harder to be hated by the people you love, especially when they are right in your face."
● "My family has a history of being 'military men.' Since I am the only male in my family, Dad expects me to follow in his footsteps. Every day I hear 'Be a real man. Be a marine.' I wish my parents would create an environment where I could be honest with them and tell them I'm gay."
● "I really want my parents to know that I am gay. Three weeks before the date I had picked to come out, my cousin revealed that he is gay. My grandmother took to her bed for three weeks and my dad put his arm around me and said how grateful he was that he had a 'normal son.' Needless to say, I haven't told them I'm gay. If I had one wish, I'd wish that my parents would realize that regardless of my sexual orientation, I am the son that they love and trust."
● "I wish they knew that I'm still Tim even though I'm Gay. I wish they knew that I'm not going to die at thirty due to AIDS or hepatitis, merely because I am gay. I wish they knew that I'm in love with a wonderful boy named Jim, and that being gay isn't going to make me a societal outcast or a failure or even a hairdresser. I wish they would at least try to understand me."
● "I wish my parents could truly understand how happy I am. I wish I didn't feel weird about telling them things about myself and my boyfriend and that I didn't feel like I shouldn't show affection in front of them." (11)
The above section entitled "Parents of LGBTQ Teenagers and Suicide", "What LGBTQ Teens Wish Their Parents Knew About Their Lives" and "What LGBTQ Teens Fear Hearing Most From Their Parents," came mostly from Kevin Jennings outstanding book, Always My Child-A Parent's Guide to Understanding Your Gay, Lesbian Bisexual, Transgendered or Questioning Son or Daughter. Mr. Jennings is the founder and past Executive Director of Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
I think my Grandpop saved my life
by Don Clark, Ph.D
A man told me [Don Clark] how he had dropped out of school, quit his job and been close to suicide when he received a one-page note from his grandparents that changed everything. He had disclosed his gay identity to his mother and father and their reaction had been to enlist all of their friends to pray for him. They did not want him to be gay, and he did not want to be gay because it was making everyone so miserable.
His grandparents' note invited him to come and help them with their cherry harvest. "It sounds dumb but all I could think about was the taste of my grandmother's cherry pie still warm from the oven. It filled my whole mind. It was my whole focus. So I went. The second day I was there, my grandfather sat me down on the ground next to him in the orchard and asked me what was bothering me, so I told him. He bowled me over. He said he didn't see the use in talking about it with anyone else in the family because they were obviously too easily upset right now. But he wanted me to know that he had had the same feelings when he was my age and he envied me, living at a time when it was possible to do something good with those feelings. He said, 'You go find yourself a good man to love, love him good, and bring him back here to meet your Grandma and me and we'll help you celebrate.' I think my Grandpop saved my life." (13)
Getting More Help
Online in the United States you can Click Here to go to PFLAG, which is a national organization and support group for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. PFLAG has more than 400 affiliates throughout the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 11 other countries. Click Here for more information about foreign affiliates.
I also recommend the following 3 books:
"Always My Child", by Kevin Jennings with Pat Shapiro, M. S. W., New York, Fireside Books, a division of Simon and Shuster, 2003.
“My Child is Gay-How Parents React When They Hear the News”, by McDougall, Bryce, Sydney, Australia, Allen and Unwin, 1998.
Acceptance-Parents of Lesbians & Gays Talk About Their Experiences" by
Carolyn Welch Griffin, Marian J. Wirth and Arthur G. Wirth, New York, St.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
(1) Jennings, Kevin, "Always My Child-A Parent's Guide to Understanding Your Gay, Lesbian Bisexual, Transgendered or Questioning Son or Daughter", New York, Fireside (Simon & Schuster), 2003, pages 11 and 12.
(2) Ibid., pages 271 and 272.
(3) McNeill, John J., "The Church and the Homosexual", Boston, Beacon Press, 1976, 1993, page 34.
(4) Jennings, Kevin, Ibid.,
pages 278 and 279.
(5) Russell, Stephen I. and Kara Joyner, PH.D., p. 1276 (Kevin Jennings's footnote)
(6) Hershberger, Scott, Neil W. Pilkingon, and Anthony R. D'Augelli, p. 479. (Kevin Jennings's footnote)
(7) Shapiro, Patricia G., pp. 125-126. (Kevin Jennings's footnote)
Jennings, Kevin, Ibid., pages 281 and 282.
(9) Shapiro, Patricia G., pp. 127-128. (Kevin Jennings's footnote)
(10) Jennings, Kevin, Ibid., pages 282 to 285.
(11) Jennings, Kevin, Ibid., pages 288 and 289.
(12) Jennings, Kevin, Ibid., pages 294.
(13) Clark, Don, Ph.D., "Loving Someone Gay" (Fourth Edition), Berkeley, Celestial Arts, 2005, page 226.
Click HERE to Go to How to Accept that Your Child is Homosexual
Click HERE for Gay Teens and Homosexuality Resources
If you would like to communicate with me, my e-mail address is: email@example.com
A Gay Teen Short Story ♂♂
Church is so confusing for Zack. His new pastor preaches nothing but hate and condemnation of gays and lesbians, but no matter how carefully he reads his Bible, he can’t find where it says God hates him. Will things change when Zach's boyfriend Billy suggests that they all go to his church instead? Click Here or on the icon to read the story.
Click for Page 30 - Footnotes
below to go to:
The Anti-Gay Religious Right's Really Cruel and Idiotic Argument
Their Message to a Gay Person is: Be alone. Live alone. Die alone.
Click for Homosexuality is neither a Choice nor a Sin - Table of contents
Click for Gary Lynn's Home Page
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