Lee: "LGBT military members have a higher suicide rate compared to their straight counter parts"
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - In addition to tackling discriminatory labels and stereotypes, members of the LGBT personnel serving in the military carry a much higher suicide rate, compared to their straight counterparts.
"Suicide rates are higher among the LGBT community than the general population primarily for young adults and late teenage males," expressed Brentwood's Clinical Director, Charles Lee, "Gay soldiers who hide their sexuality while they're in the military are more likely to attempt suicide."
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds worldwide. For every adult who dies of suicide, the WHO estimates more than 20 others attempt suicide.
People in the mental health world are focused on breaking down barriers to help ensure their quality of life.
"Some of those barriers are cultural barriers within the system that treats active-duty and veterans that are LGBT and have to have some of those issues addressed have to do with their privacy concerns," said Lee. "They have a lot of concerns about their information being kept private and treatment settings, especially now that most records, medical records, counseling records are electronic."
Lee says both military and civilian clinical workers are getting more training in this area as more people are coming forward, willing to address sexuality.
"They need to get support to look at the issues that they're having around concealment of their identity if that's an issue, disclosure, the rejection issues that they may be dealing with or may anticipate dealing with," said Lee, "There is a lot of training going on now to help prevent any form of harassment or anything like that with this population so they need to reach out to people."
Places like Brentwood Hospital focus on protective factors to help reduce suicide risks.
"Helping that soldier be connected with family members who will be supportive of them, helping them be connected with social support networks so they have a sense of belonging that helps raise their self-esteem, help address any depression they might have and then we work to address reducing their access to firearms whether they may be at risk either at home or through their duty."
Lee says it's important for the LGBT community to understand there is help available and he encourages others to have an open mind.
"There are resources available through the vet center through the VA for that population and those resources are growing as we speak as this becomes more of an issue that's come to light," said Lee, "They are in a very difficult position that they volunteer for and that position involves a lot of trust, trust between them, between their fellow soldiers and trust between them and their command and they're going to face a lot of difficulties yet they've chosen to do this and they are to be commended for it I think."
Do you or someone you know suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts? Get help now. You can call Brentwood's 24/7 hotline at (318) 678-7500.
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