Gay Bullying And Suicide Among Teens
There is an epidemic of gay bullying and suicides among teenagers. Parents need to look out for signs of bullying, depression, and suicidal thoughts in children and teens.
Gay bullying includes direct bullying and cyber-bullying that is directed at LGBTQ people. Along with the various forms of bullying, gay bullying may even include sexual harassment or assault. Studies show that over 80% of LGBTQ individuals have reported experiencing gay bullying at some point in their lifetime. Any bullying can cause low self-esteem, loneliness, depression, or suicidal thoughts.
What Can You Do As A Parent?
Knowing your child is being bullied can make parents feel helpless, but there are actions can and should take to help their child.
- Support your child will go a long way in preventing your child from suffering negative impacts like suicidal idealization from bullying. Children with social and family support are less likely to be depressed or suffer from low self-esteem or loneliness. It is essential to talk to your child about his or her feelings and what is going on with the bullying. Assure your child that they can come to you with anything and you love them unconditionally and will not judge them. Let them know you are on their side no matter what.
- Intervene in a productive way. This does not mean marching up to your child’s school and confronting the bully. Productive measures include drawing awareness to gay bullying. Talking and opening up about gay bullying can spread the word that it is a huge problem that parents need to know about. You can also reach out to school authorities and the community for help. Parents can suggest that schools incorporate information about bullying and accepting LGBTQ students in the curriculum.
- Take your child to a therapist. If you think your child is depressed from being bullied, give them someone to talk to. While it would be great if children opened up to their parents about everything, obviously this is not the case. Speaking to a therapist gives children a safe space to discuss and work out their feelings and problems with themselves and others. Therapists can also diagnose and refer the child to a psychologist if medication is necessary to treat depression or other mental illness.
- Know the symptoms of depression. Symptoms of depression include, but are not limited to a drastic change in sleeping and/or eating habits, noticeable weight gain or loss, poor hygiene, loss of interest in former hobbies or activities, and poor performance at school.