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Support May Help Curb Suicide Among Gay Youths
Date:4/18/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- Gay youths are much less likely to attempt suicide when they live in communities where they feel they have some support, either through gay/lesbian groups at school or simply because more same-sex couples live in the area, new research has found.

According to a report published online April 18 in Pediatrics, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youths who live in a nonsupportive social environment are five times more likely than their "straight" peers to try to kill themselves.

"While there are a small number of prior studies that have demonstrated that school climate makes a difference for LGB students, this study is important because it extends our understanding to the broader surroundings of the community in which students and schools are situated," said Stephen T. Russell, a professor and director of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

"The study shows that the population density of same-sex couples ... is a strong and stable measure of the community/school climate and that this has a direct influence on the well-being of LGB youth," added Russell, who was not involved in the study.

According to the study's author, Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholar at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, "previous studies showed that gay youth are more likely to attempt suicide."

Real-life experience has backed up that statement. In a one-month period last fall, the media reported on four incidents in which LGB youth committed suicide after being bullied because of their sexual orientation.

In addition, a survey conducted by the New York-based Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network found that nearly nine of every 10 gay, lesbian bisexual or transgendered middle and high school students sai
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