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NH Efforts to Curb LGBTQ Youth Suicide

Curbing LGBTQ youth suicide is a major goal of support organizations and some doctors in the Granite State.(PICCSR/flckr).
Curbing LGBTQ youth suicide is a major goal of support organizations and some doctors in the Granite State.
(PICCSR/flckr).
October 9, 2017

EXETER, N.H. — Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Granite Staters between the ages of 10 and 34. And efforts are under way to curb the problem for LGBTQ youth, who the Centers for Disease Control reports are three times more likely to contemplate taking their own lives.

Dr. Bobby Kelly is a family practice physician in Exeter who takes those numbers seriously. He said the number is likely even higher for transgender individuals, especially those younger than 25.

Kelly said in his own practice, he emphasizes making young people feel comfortable sharing their feelings about sexual orientation and gender identity.

"Isolation and not sharing these feelings with other folks is going to make them feel less capable of getting help,” Kelly said. “So just talking to somebody and sharing the feelings is the best way to do it."

Kelly said there are resources available in the state. He works with groups such as Seacoast OutRight, which has a regular drop-in group for LGBTQ youth, and the Equality Health Center, which provides both behavioral health and medical care services.

For young people who are struggling with sexual identity and gender orientation but who do not live near a drop-in group, Kelly said help is available on the web at TheTrevorProject.org.

"So, there are a lot of really good websites [like] The Trevor Project,” he said. "Especially in places like New Hampshire, where it is pretty rural, I think relying on online and phone hotlines is a little bit more relevant."

In November, health providers have an opportunity to take part in a Zero Suicide Academy sponsored by Exeter Health Resources in Portsmouth. In the meantime, Kelly said he regularly reaches out with tips to local providers.

"Sort of basic LGBTQ Youth 101 things,” Kelly said. “[It] essentially comes down to simple things, such as using language that is supportive, and being open and honest, and allowing people to be open. "

Health and behavioral health care organizations and hospitals that want to participate in the Zero Suicide Academy must apply by October 22. Young people can access the Trevor Lifeline without charge at 866-488-7386.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH