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Utah Coalition Plan Focuses on LGBTQ Suicide Prevention

Studies have shown that people who identify as LBGTQ often must deal with discrimination and social stigma, which can lead to a high rate of mental-health concerns. (Ben Gingell/Adobe Stock)
Studies have shown that people who identify as LBGTQ often must deal with discrimination and social stigma, which can lead to a high rate of mental-health concerns. (Ben Gingell/Adobe Stock)
September 18, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY - Members of Utah's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer or Questioning community are at a much greater suicide risk than any other identifiable group. Using a 2019 Utah study on health issues - which for the first time included gender identity and sexual orientation - the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition has developed an LGBTQ Strategic Suicide Prevention Plan.

The coalition found that gay, lesbian and bisexual Utahns have higher rates of mental-health concerns, due in part to discrimination and a lack of acceptance by some. Ray Bailey, who co-chairs the coalition's work group, said it was clear the group needed special attention.
"We saw a gap in suicide prevention and thought there were ways that we could apply the state plan," said Bailey. "And really get at some of the reasons why the LGBTQ community has higher risk of suicide than others in the state."

Bailey said while the overall suicide rate in Utah is among the highest in the country, studies show that LGBTQ adults are twice as likely than the general population to attempt suicide.

According to Bailey, the plan focuses on better messaging to and about the LGBTQ community, access to specialized mental health care, teaching coping and problem-solving skills, helping individuals reconnect with families and community, and reducing access to lethal means of taking a life.

"We wanted to create a plan that offered some really actionable items and ways to address where there might be gaps in the services provided to LGBTQ folks," said Bailey.

Bailey added the coalition is also developing programs to support the survivors of suicide loss.

"There are limited services for LGBTQ people in Utah," said Bailey. "So, I think if we can have a more comprehensive plan and show what we're doing, then we can get more attention and support for the work that we're doing."

Bailey hopes the plan will be used by Utah social service agencies to develop their own programs, and by elected officials in crafting policy initiatives to better serve this population.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - UT