What are problems that affect LGBT youth

Lucerne is fighting against the high suicide rate among LGBT youth

Lucerne is fighting against the high suicide rate among LGBT youth

Homosexual, bisexual and transsexual adolescents are up to five times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual teenagers. Why this is so has not yet been researched in Switzerland. A professor at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences wants to change that.

International research shows that homosexual, bisexual and transsexual adolescents (LGBT adolescents) are more likely to have suicidal thoughts than others. This phenomenon is now to be examined more closely in Switzerland.

There is data on the suicide attempt rate among LGBT young people, but no study on what the exact background is, says Andreas Pfister, lecturer and project manager at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences - Social Work. "Why is incomprehensible from my point of view." Ultimately, it is about important social issues:

"It is important to me that children and adolescents can grow up without stress regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity."

Pfister is less interested in numbers than in the fate behind them. “Last but not least, the social, social and personal environment of LGBT young people is decisive,” he explains. Often these are devalued in society, which is very stressful. "This in a development phase that is already demanding in itself, the youth, which is characterized by upheavals and the finding of identity." Now it is a matter of taking a closer look at this particularly suicidal group and their environment.

More and more young people are at risk of suicide

The suicide rate among young people in Switzerland is alarmingly high. In Switzerland, along with cancer and accidents, suicide is one of the most common causes of death among 15 to 29-year-olds, as the figures from the Federal Statistical Office show. Every week around two adolescents and young adults commit suicide in Switzerland. The number of suicide attempts is even higher.

Pressure to perform in the children's room

Mental illnesses are also a growing burden on young people. Today pressure and excessive demands no longer only affect the everyday life of adults.

Children and adolescents are already increasingly suffering from stress - often with serious effects on their health. The Pro Juventute organization and the nationwide campaign «Less pressure. More child. " launched.

Help with thoughts of suicide

Anyone who is in contact with someone who has psychological problems or is at risk of suicide is well advised to take the feelings seriously and to address the situation. Just listening can help. Professional help is available here:

Offered hand - Conversation and advice: www.143.ch and telephone number 143. Advice for children and young people from Pro Juventute: www.147.ch and telephone number 147. Online advice for young people with thoughts of suicide: www.u25-schweiz.ch(dvm)

Respond to the youngsters

To this end, Pfister and his team want to shed light on the problem from different perspectives - for example from the perspective of young people, close relatives, colleagues and contact persons at school. "We urgently need a study that gives more indications of what we could actually do in practice to prevent suicide attempts." Pfister hopes that the planned study will also meet with international interest one day. Ultimately, the knowledge generated should improve suicide prevention not only in Switzerland.

But there is still a lot to do before then. In order to find out how these suicide attempts come about and what processes the victims go through, Pfister is looking for LGBT adolescents and young adults between the ages of 14 and 25 who have attempted suicide. Pfister is aware that it is anything but easy to talk to strangers for about an hour about the suicide attempt: “These young people have to be stable enough. We received advice and support from psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist during the preliminary study. " The place and time of the interview can be freely chosen so that the interview takes place in an environment in which the young people feel comfortable. Heterosexual adolescents are also included as a benchmark. In addition, there would be interviews with people from the young people's environment.

Touching fates shake up

As part of a preliminary study, the researcher has already had a few conversations with LGBT young people who wanted to end their lives. It was intense to listen to the young people's stories. “I was impressed by the young people's courage to tell their story in detail. For example, there was a young trans man who kept hearing from his father that he would never become a real man. "

So that the study results can be used optimally in practice, Andreas Pfister has put together an accompanying team made up of people from suicide prevention, the LGBT community, the social sciences and medicine. "Because we involve these experienced experts from different disciplines right from the start, it will be easier to derive practical measures from the entire research work."

At the end of March, Pfister will receive a notification from the Swiss National Science Foundation whether the study will be financially supported for a period of four years. "If so, we could start on October 1, 2020 and use the fund money to cover the costs of a doctoral position, academic assistance and support from proven experts from partner institutions." Pfister leaves open how much money is involved.

Additional Information: Swiss umbrella organization for gay and bisexual men *: www.pinkcross.ch