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Suicide, Suicidal Ideations and Suicide Attempts Essay

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Updated: Jan 10th, 2022


The study of suicide, suicidal ideations, and suicide attempts gained popularity after the publication of the book ‘Suicide’ in 1897 authored by Emile Durkheim (Minois 1999). The book, which focused on assessing the nature and causes of suicide brought alerted psychologists and sociologists on the prevalent rise of suicide. The youth, in particular, were the most affected. Various researches have shown that suicide studies among the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and questioning youth (GLBTQ) had been sidelined. This has however taken a major turnaround with recent emergence in research on suicide, suicidal ideations and suicide attempts among the GLBTQ group being critically examined. It has been observed that suicidal deaths claim more than 4000 youths annually hence being ranked among the top three causes of deaths among the youths in the United States alone. This research will review different literature that concerns itself with QLBTQ suicide and further form an analysis on different opinions by the authors.

Scope of the Problem

According to Sears (2005), youths who are either gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender or questioning youth, face social problems compared to their so-called ‘straight peers’. The social problems exhibit major risk factors such as lack of support from family members and relatives, bitter experiences such as bullying and all forms of abuse from their peers coupled with rejection by the community. This causes this group of youth to shy away from the society causing them to fall into depression and others resulting in to use of drugs which leads slowly to their deaths. They develop an internalized homophobia as a result of self-denial which in turn leads them to contemplate suicide as a solution to their unsolved conflict about their sexual identity.

Worchel and Gearing (2010) argue that due to the high numbers of reported suicidal deaths and attempts among the GLBTQ, it is apparent that counselors have failed in their bid to save the youth. They further state that the counselors either have ignored this particular breed of youths or they simply fail to apply the correct counseling theory or strategy as an intervention.

Applicable Counseling Theory Strategy and Technique

Several theories on counseling can be adopted by counselors to solve the problem of suicide among the gays, lesbians, bi-sexual, transgender and questioning youths. These theories include behavior and rational emotive therapy, family therapy, client-centered and holistic health approach. However, most studies indicate that suicide, suicidal ideations and attempts have become a crisis and therefore should be given first priority by counselors. The most ideal strategy therefore that needs to be applied is crisis intervention theory.

Crisis intervention theory is applied by counselors to offer immediate help to patients being faced with a certain crisis. The GLBTQ youth undergo a major series of social rejection and humiliation and this causes them to slowly withdraw from their usual self and become mentally distressed. King and Margaret Wheeler (2007) argue that 90% of these peer groups have contemplated or attempted suicide. This is a huge number and Crisis Intervention Strategy becomes the most appropriate to save them. The strategy has been proved to have the ability to reduce the intensity of the patient’s emotional and mental distress in a short period. This helps the patient revert to their usual self-being before the crisis. Counselors need to step in to save the youth from killing themselves due to social pressure before it is too late.

Literature Review

Numerous studies have confirmed that the suicidal numbers of gays, lesbians, transgender, bisexual and questioning youth were higher than those of their heterosexual counterparts. According to a survey conducted by United Nations (1996) in Massachusetts indicated that 42 percent of gay and bisexual men between the ages of 15 to 35 years had contemplated suicide as compared to only 17 percent of heterosexual men who were in the same age bracket.

The use of questionnaires by D’Augelli and Pilkington (2001) to determine various issues among the GLBTQ indicated that more than 40 percent of the youth questioned had often contemplated suicide with 30 percent stating that they had attempted suicide at least once in their lives. They further argue that in their research, they discovered that 20 percent of the youth were still in denial of their sexual identity and suppressed their inner sexual feelings. Another important quantitative study conducted indicated that there was an increase in the rates of youth suicides from 3.5 percent per 150,000 youth recorded in 1988 to 12 percent per 150,000 youth in the United States.

Several researches have also been conducted to establish the risk factors that led to suicidal attempts, ideations and deaths. Bochenek and Brown (2001) define the risk factors as disorders that are associated with a lack of biological, psychology or social protective support. GLBTQ youth face numerous risk factors such as ex-communication from their homes, discrimination in their normal social lives and rejection and ridicule from their peers. Statistics however indicate that 30 percent of suicidal ideations and attempts were due to extreme bullying by their heterosexual peers (Sears 2005). Bullying can either be physical or emotional. Physical involves beating up the youth and inflicting physical pain to the individual while emotional bullying involves name-calling, spreading rumors and using social media networks to shame the individual.

The National Association of School Psychologists (2000) revealed that bullying caused major negative effects to youths which led to most of them contemplating suicide due to the impact. They further argued that counselors failed to intervene on time during this crucial time and the youth fail to have a purpose in life. Bullying is still prevalent in most schools and this explains why the suicidal rate is higher among the GLBTQ youth compared to their heterosexual peers.

It is further argued that mental illness is also a contributing risk factor that leads to suicidal ideations, attempts and deaths. GLBTQ adolescents are at higher risks of developing mental disorders than their peers. Institutional discrimination is also major factor that leads to the youth being depressed and resorting to suicide. This is prevalent especially in states which have implemented new laws that are discriminatory against them. It should be noted that most laws around the world fail to give protection support to the GLBTQ fraternity and therefore the community tends to shun them. Such state discrimination includes prohibitions of their marriages and poor health insurance that can cover both partners. This leads them to suffer from depression. The other risk factor worth noting is HIV/AIDS which can lead to suicidal attempts. When either of the youth contracts the disease, he further feels hopeless in life and therefore contemplates to end his or her life.

Suicide signs are prevalent among the youths though many authors argue that people tend to ignore them until after it is too late to act. Some of the signs include isolation from society, depression, engagement in substance drug abuse and irregular behaviors.

It is however possible to prevent suicidal thoughts by applying several protective measures. Ponterotto, Suzuki and Casas (2009) applied the triangulated mixed-method design to explore the application of different protective measures used in prevention of suicidal ideations, attempts and deaths among gay, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and the questioning youth. They used the sexual gender identification questionnaire and both the Protective Support and Suicide Ideation Scales to correlate with each other. The research indicated that the protective measures with the help of counselors drastically decreased the rate of suicide ideations and attempts.

Ryan and Futterman (1998) argue that the main protective measure is unconditional support given to the patient no matter his or her sexual orientation. This entails the community accepting them as normal children and treating them equally as their peers. Affordable and fair resources should be evenly distributed among the GLBTQ group and made accessible without any form of discrimination. Any form of bullying whether physical or emotional should be condemned and punitive measures taken against those found guilty of such acts. This can be done by introducing policies in school environments or working environments. States should also review their rigid policies to include the members of GLBTQ.

Russel (2003) notes that there are no published books that critically and comprehensively analyze programs evaluations for GLBTQ. However, American Journal of Public Health (2001) gave a suggestion of the need to implement some of these intervention programs targeting the GLBTQ. One such proposed program is the provision of GLBTQ-sensitivity and anti-bullying training programs to both counselors and teachers. This is due to the fact that most counselors and teachers fail to intervene when the affected youth is bullied by his fellow students. The program is bound to work as the intervention will serve to reduce the rate of suicidal attempts and ideations among the youth. The program incorporated the Trevor Project which is a known organization that offers 24-hour phone hotlines to solve the suicidal crisis.

The other proposed program is the provision of grant incentives to learning institutions that support the GLBTQ Alliances. This ensures that they are given social network support by their school peers. Research conducted on the effectiveness of this program indicated that most of the youths who were in schools with this program felt more at ease with their classmates and performed better in class. They hardly missed their classes and social interaction was high.

It should also be evident that the literature review discussed seems to support the application of crisis intervention theory as a strategy to deal with suicide, suicide ideations and suicide deaths. Most of the researchers supported the Trevor Project approach which is a crisis intervention over the phone that helps the victims. The project has saved many lives and therefore should be incorporated by counselors to decrease the suicidal rates.

The Limitations of the Present Study

One major limitation notable in the studies is reliance on surveys as research methodology which involves the participants to directly contribute. This therefore means that the data acquired is subject to many limitations that apply to this kind of data collection hence making it unreliable. The disadvantage of relying on a survey for data collection is based on numerous reasons. Most respondents are in denial of the problem and hence are reluctant to reveal or disclose their sexual identity. This can be due to the social rejection that he has previously faced. The respondent may also be reluctant to admit to their thoughts on suicidal contemplation. On the other hand, the respondent tends to exaggerate their opinion on suicide contemplation and hence giving false information.

The other limitation of the study is failure of the researches conducted failing to offer a thorough distinction between suicidal ideations or thoughts that seem to place people at suicidal risk and suicide attempts from thoughts that are safe from putting them at risk. The researchers only claim that suicide thoughts often lead to victims committing suicide but it can also be argued that come of the victims fail to exhibit the negative thoughts yet they attempt suicide.

The recent studies also argue that GLBTQ attempts suicide due to certain risks such as mental disorders and HIV/AIDS. They however fail to explain how this leads to the victim committing suicide. The risk factors are new phenomena and therefore researchers have failed to produce a comprehensive analysis of the two leaving the application wanting.

The other limitation is the failure to research the prevention programs that can be made available to the patients. All the studies seem to mention one applicable project which is the Trevor Project. They further fail to comprehensively explain how the theory applied in the Trevor Project works and it is not compared with other programs that had been implemented.

Recommendations for Future Research

Due to the shortcomings mentioned in the above studies, several suggestions can be made for future researches. One such recommendation is adoption of several techniques of data collection instead of relying on surveys. Comparisons of data from different techniques will give an idea of a close data that can be relied on.

The other recommendation is the ability of the researcher to define and differentiate between the risky thoughts that can lead to victims contemplating suicide and pure thoughts. The research should also conduct thorough investigation on the how certain factors such as HIV/AIDS and mental disorders can lead to the suicide attempt. Being new concepts, the recent studies do not have a proven methodology of data collection that backs their claims. This appears unrealistic and emphasis should be placed on this area.

Finally, the implementation of available programs should be comprehensively researched on and the same compared to Trevor Project Program. This will broaden options available for prevention of suicide deaths, suicide attempts and suicide ideations.


Suicide, suicidal ideations, and suicide attempts among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth is still an alarming issue that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. From the literature review discussed, it is evident that a crisis interventions theory as a counseling intervention technique should be adopted and applied. This is because the increasing number of suicides is becoming a crisis that should be dealt with immediately. This idea has been supported by Trevor Program which has worked nationwide. The strategy seems to encompass all the other counseling programs at a go and within a short period.


Association of School Psychologists (2000) School Psychology Review, Vol 29, Issues 1-4. Michigan: National Association of School Psychologists.

Bochenek, M and Brown, W (2001) Hatred in The Hallways; Violence and Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender Students. New York: Human Rights Watch.

D’Augelli, R and Pilkington, W (2001) Suicidality Patterns and Sexual Orientation on Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual youths’ Health Risk Behavior. Journal of Adolescent Health,30.

King, T and Wheeler, M (2007) Medical Management of Vulnerable and Undeserved Patients; Principles, Practices and Populations. USA: McGraw Hill Companies.

Minois, G (1999) History of Suicide; Voluntary Death in Western Culture. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Ponterotto, J, Suzuki, L and Casas, M (2009) Handbook of Multicultural Counseling. New York: Amazon Publishers.

Russel, S (2003) Sexual minority youth and suicide risk. American Behavioral Scientist, 6.

Ryan, C and Futterman, D (1998) Lesbian and gay youth; care and counseling. New York: Columbia University Press.

Sears, J (2005) Gay,Lesbian and Transgender Issues in Education: Programs, Policies and Practices. New York: Harrington Park Press.

Sears, J (2005) Youth, Education and Sexualities; An International Encyclopedia. New York: Green Wood Publishing Group.

United Nations (1996) Guidelines for the formulation and Implementation of National Strategies. New York: United Nations.

Worchel, D and Gearing, R (2010) Suicide Assessment and Treatment: Empirical and Evidence Based Practices. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

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