News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 

Sexuality Issues In Suicide Being Ignored

Monday, 13 November 2000

Sexuality Issues Ignored By Suicide Prevention Planners

Christchurch advocacy group Rainbow Media Action applauds recent efforts to do something about the high levels of youth suicide in New Zealand, but condemns the failure of health authorities to acknowledge the sexuality component in New Zealand suicide statistics.

RMA spokesperson Nick Smith says: “The best research we have from overseas and in New Zealand estimates that young gay men are suiciding or seriously attempting suicide at 4 to 6 times the rate of their heterosexual fellows (lesbian statistics are harder to find but the evidence suggests they too have an elevated suicide rate).

“This is not because of any inherent weakness in homosexuals, but because of the adverse effects of homophobia. More than a decade after homosexual law reform, New Zealand society still gives very few signals to our gay and lesbian youth that they are OK.”

Smith says that many New Zealand High Schools, in particular, are still very unsafe places for young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. “In the playground, sometimes even the classroom, people are bombarded with negative messages about homosexuality. Studies show young gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons are victims of bullying in higher proportion to their numbers and that they are often socially isolated at school. Other studies show that disproportionately high numbers of homeless youth identify as gay or lesbian. Small wonder, then, that disturbingly high numbers of young homosexual people fall into depression and the contemplation of suicide.”

Rainbow Media Action says that groups advocating for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues have often met with a deaf ear when trying to draw the attention of health promotion planners to the sexuality link in youth suicide. “We are told ‘not to muddy the issue’ with queer politics, that people won’t want to listen if they think it’s a ‘gay thing’. Or, we find that the mass of anecdotal evidence and experience is ignored because, until very recently, there were no research statistics on gay youth suicide specific to New Zealand.

“The result is seen in the recent publicity about the new Youth Help Card suicide prevention programme in Christchurch. Not only has the issue of sexuality been ignored as a potential risk factor, but the only specialist gay and lesbian telephone helpline in Christchurch “gay and lesbian line” has not been listed. Rainbow Media Action understands that the organisers of the Youth Help Card project had neither informed Gay and Lesbian line of the project nor sought its input. (Gay and Lesbian Line can be reached on 379-4796).

“Authoritative American, British and Australian surveys reveal appalling poor health and suicide statistics for young non-heterosexual people as a direct result of the prejudice they receive. Emerging New Zealand studies show the situation in this country is just as concerning.

“Suicide has, until recently, been the invisible, unspoken-about tragedy of New Zealand’s youth. Authorities are now waking up to the fact that people need to know and feel free to talk about these issues if these statistics are to be reduced. But this progress must not stop at the closet door. Young people struggling to come to terms with a sexuality that is different to the majority of their peers also need to learn that they are valued and accepted, and that there are safe places for them too.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Scoop Review Of Books: 'the everrumble' by Michelle Elvy

This is Zettie’s tale from her birth date in 1965 through to her ‘passing’ at the age of 105. Yet, Zettie’s tale is our own tale, as humans still all-too-often hell-bent on destroying our environment and therefore our fellow creatures – and thus – symbiotically and inevitably – ourselves. More>>

Tuia 250: Endeavour Arrives At Tūranganui-A-Kiwa

The co-chair for Tuia 250 national commemorations says it's not a bad thing if people want to express their views, as a replica of Captain Cook's Endeavour is today set to make its way into Tūranganui-a-Kiwa... Local iwi oppose the ship's visit and have refused to do a pōhiri. More>>

ALSO:

On 7–19 October: NZ Improv Fest Turns (It Up To) Eleven

The New Zealand Improv Festival (NZIF) is celebrating eleven years by going 110%; this national festival has increased to two weeks of improvisation with guests from all over the world. More>>

ALSO:

NZ On Air: $12 Million For Stimulating Content For Tamariki

New Zealand tamariki have much to be excited about, with just under $12.5 million in funding confirmed for a raft of new screen and music content including a new daily kids quiz show. More>>

ALSO:

Master Storyteller: Author Jack Lasenby Remembered

Jack Lasenby died on Friday, aged 88. He was the author of children's books, novels, and short stories. He was the winner of numerous awards, including the Prime Minister's award for Literary Achievement in 2014. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • CULTURE
  • HEALTH
  • EDUCATION
 
 
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland