A new report released by the Council of Europe this week has acknowledged that suicide rates among young LGBT people are “significantly higher” than the general population.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council (PACE) is now appealing to European Union (EU) member states to take a series of measures aiding risk detection and prevention of child and teenage suicide, including repeat attempts.
The document, Child and teenage suicide in Europe: A serious public health issue reaffirms “the importance the PACE attaches to respecting sexual and physical differences and emphasises its commitment to combating homophobia and the stigma attached to all sexual behaviours, including transexualism.”
The Council of Europe, which sits in Strasbourg, France, predates the EU.
It places particular emphasis on legal standards and protection of human rights and serves 800 million Europeans across 47 countries.
Bernard Marquet, rapporteur of the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee, speaking at a debate on the report said: “It is crucial that governments recognise teenage suicide as a major public health problem and implement appropriate health and welfare policies to prevent such despairing acts.”
The Assembly is also in favour of increasing measures to fight homophobia and stigmatisation of any sexual lifestyle whatsoever.
Point 10 of their draft resolution states:
“The Assembly is concerned at evidence that suicidality among young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is significantly higher than in the general young population.
“It notes that this heightened risk is not a function of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but of the stigmatisation, marginalisation and discrimination which they experience because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As such, this heightened risk has a significant human rights dimension.”
According to the Children, Young People and Families Programme, there is little information or support available in schools to counteract the negative messages about homosexuality and transgenderism.
Their research found that young LGBT people are coming out at significantly younger ages meaning they are facing homophobic bullying when they are still in education.
Mr Marquet, an Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe member, added that risk behaviour arising from pacts or dares between young people, as well as the promotion of suicide on the internet is perpetuating the problem.
He emphasised that it is necessary to provide systematic psycho-social support measures with a view to preventing repeat attempts, recalling that 15% of adolescents who have attempted suicide will try and do so again.
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