Gay Suicide vs. Suicide

Sammy G's picture

Look, I don't want to be the a*s*ole here, but I just wanted to review the facts and make sure I understand what I believe to be a misconstrued misplacement of national attention.

Last week, at Rutgers, a college freshman surreptitiously filmed his gay roommate on video making out with another guy and streamed the video online. Several days later the gay subject of the filming committed suicide. Charges were brought against the filming roommate for tampering of privacy.

Unless I missed something, I haven't seen anything that gives the definitive reason this kid committed suicide. It could have been for any reason. It sure could have been for being 'outed' by his roommate in an embarrassing manner. It could have also been for unrequited love. It could have been because he was depressed. The national reaction has been a wave of 'gay suicide' rants; pleas about how teasing gay people leads to gay suicide. Hey USA: suicide is a matter for all teens. What is the annual number of gay teens committing suicide compared to the number of teens committing suicide? How many other teens commit suicide for being teased, regardless of their sexuality, eating disorder, etc.?

If we want to use this awful, particular circumstance to refocus the light on the heinous, perennial nature of teen suicide, then I hope the light delivers a harsh unveiling on a subject under-discussed in our daily stream of dialog. But given the lack of facts above, people are jumping to a conclusion to fit the en vogue nature of the gay culture issue, and micro-focusing that light only on a subset of teen troubles. It's unfortunate because we're talking about teen suicide.


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weed's picture

I agree

And so does Google and current events:

The whole problem with being a teen is if you're wierd, outside the norm, *different*. This can be because you're gay, foreign, not into sports or mainstream pursuits, or just because someone who's *in* decides you're out. But being on the outside looking in is hard when you're trying to decide who you are. And if someone decides to bully your for being an outsider, the difficulty can be multiplied exponentially.

I think the problem needs to be expanded outside of "gay suicide" and to include bullying, abuse, neglect, and other larger contributing factors.

My $.02

My $.02

matthew's picture

Been thinking about this

I've been thinking about this in light of the recent histrionics regarding a LDS leader's reference in General Conference to homosexuality being unnatural and immoral.

On the one hand is the LGBTQ (the "Q" is a recent addition, referring to those "questioning" their sexuality) community, sternly defending its position that homosexuality is an in-born and immutable trait.

On the other hand is the religious and moral conservative community, claiming homosexuality is a learned behavior that can be treated like the mental disorder it was once considered.

I believe sexual attraction is both a learned and a gene-based behavior. And it has extremes.

I like to think of sexual attraction kind of like one's tendency toward being organized. Our conscious brains center on predicting the future, organizing and categorizing the world around us to better predict outcomes. Some people have few organizational skills, nor much desire to learn them. Others are extremely organized. Still others take the extreme to the extreme, and their extreme organizational behavior becomes a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with specific treatments to allow them a decent quality of life.

Sexual attraction covers a spectrum of behavior and response. It's not a genetic switch that is either one way or the other. The American "Coming Out" behavior is bizarre. Why must one declare one's sexuality? Many other cultures don't, and treat the spectrum of fairly average heterosexual and homosexual sexual behavior as all "normal".

From that perspective, I think both sides are in error. The LGBTQ community derides religious leaders who oppose their dogma, like much of the American the religious community embraces a dogma that the LGBTQ organizers are proselytizing to heterosexuals to strengthen their numbers.

The truth -- like it almost always seems to be -- lies somewhere in the middle. As does the just action.

As you may or may not know, my stepbrother killed himself a few weeks ago. He left no note, but from my casual interviews with family members and his ex-wife, it seems clear there were a number of issues leading to his decision. As much as people like to say suicide is a "call for help", I think suicide is much more commonly used to seek relief from pain. Nothingness is preferable to existence when every day you feel as if your heart is getting ripped from your chest by those around you and your own miserable existence.

Alleviating this feeling in our teens isn't necessarily going to be accomplished by further legitimizing homosexuality, though that may be a worthwhile human rights goal in itself. It isn't going to be found by punishing bullies more severely, or through more public education programs surrounding knowledge of why bullying is bad.

I think suicide is a public health issue. And the solution is screening, identification, and treatment of personality disorders, with a renewed effort to radically improve our mental health diagnostic abilities.

For too long, our country has ignored or simply medicated-away mental health problems. Yet kids raised in abusive households, the children of abusive parents, have a tendency to abuse others to get their way. These are the typical bullies that populate our schools, emulating the behavior of their parents.

We screen kids in public school for lice and scoliosis among other things. Why not screen kids for bullying tendencies, depression, hypersexuality, and other disorders? Many of these would be apparent in a brief interview, and some of the behaviors (such as bullying) would become clear after an incident is reported.

It wouldn't even require all that massive of a startup cost, and would be a much better use of our tax dollars than more medical health programs oriented at making our eighty-year-olds live to eighty-two, in my opinion. I'm in favor of implementing this on a small scale first, to evaluate suicide and crime rates, but I'm certain it would make quite a dent in both.

Matthew P. Barnson