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It Gets Better...

Updated: Nov 10, 2018

Happy pride weekend Portland, Oregon and rest of the country! Each year around the nation people come together to celebrate LGBTQ pride and culture. Parades occur annually with glitter, rainbows, candy, and drag queens aplenty and each year I ask myself, gosh, why is it always on Father's Day? It turns out that pride is celebrated in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which, for those of you who don't know, is considered to be one of the most important events in regard to LGBTQ rights. Pretty neat stuff! The Stonewall Riots occurred in New York City after a police raid that took place in a gay club. The police raid resulted in six days of protests, paving the way for significant LGBTQ activism.

Why am I writing about pride you ask and getting into LGBTQ history? Well, according to NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), LGBTQ individuals are 3 times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. In addition, the community is at greater risk for suicide. For instance, with LGBTQ people aged 10–24, suicide is one of the leading causes of death. LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely and questioning youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts or engage in self-harm than straight people. Between 38-65% of transgender individuals experience suicidal ideation. Along side mental health conditions there are also significant substance abuse issues in the LGBTQ population.

These facts sadly are not surprising when you think about the prejudice and stigma that has been apparent historically for LGBTQ individuals. Thirty five years ago homosexuality was a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM! Though times have changed since then, LGBTQ individuals still face discrimination.

With all of that being said, please know there are many resources out there specifically for LGBTQ individuals or LGBTQ family and friends. Early intervention is the best approach when it comes to anything healthcare related, so that the focus can be preventative. Talk to a trusted health care provide or stop by the Q center in Portland, Oregon for more information in how to support and foster healthy habits. Two resources for support include the It Gets Better campaign and The Trevor Project, which provides a national, 24-hr, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth at 866-488-7386. The Trevor Project also provides an online chat and confidential text messaging—text “Trevor” to 202-304-1200.

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