Teens who identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual are four times more likely to have attempted suicide in the last year than their straight peers.
I never heard that statistic, from a 2005 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Study, until today, when the news broke that a Rutgers freshman committed suicide after his roommate streamed video of him having a sexual encounter with another man. The internet is buzzing with the news—how it showcases erosion of privacy and how teens are using social media to exploit one another.
But it also shows that there is a huge need for mental health services focused on teens struggling with their sexuality. No, homosexuality is not a mental illness (This American Life discussed its removal from the DSM brilliantly in “81 words“), but with so much stigma, the burden of feeling different can becoming overwhelming.
As a reminder that the internet and social media still have positive applications, columnist and author Dan Savage started the “It Gets Better” youtube project to help struggling youths. The project encourages members of the gay, lesbian and bisexual community to post videos of themselves encouraging a struggling teen to keep going.
Judging by the comments, it’s all ready helping.