Task Force on LGBT Youth Suicide Prevention Announced

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth are the target of a new task force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, a private-public partnership launched in September by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Two other task forces also announced by the alliance will target military services members and their families and American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN).  All three groups are considered high risk for suicide.

Several high-profile suicides of LGBT youth have occurred in the past several months – including the Rutgers University freshman who jumped to his death from a bridge after his private encounter with another male was broadcast live over the internet. Two other students have been charged in connection with that broadcast.

The alliance reported that studies from organizations such as the Suicide Prevention Resource Center have found that LGBT youth are up to seven times more likely to report having attempted suicide than their non-LGBT peers, while transgender youth are believed to have higher rates of suicidal behavior as well.  

Co-leading the LGBT Youth Task Force are Kevin Jennings, assistant deputy education secretary, and Charles Robbins, executive director of The Trevor Project, the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among LGBT youth.

“This task force will bring together the best minds in the country to combat suicide and make sure that every LGBT youth has the opportunity to grow up in a supportive, accepting community and to enter adulthood safely,” Robbins said in a statement announcing creation of the task force.

Larry Echo Hawk, assistant secretary of Indian affairs at the Department of the Interior, will lead the AI/AN task force with Yvette Roubideaux, director of the federal Indian Health Service and McClellan Hall, executive director of the Albuquerque-based nonprofit National Indian Youth Leadership Project.

A spate of suicides and suicide attempts on a Montana reservation prompted Sen. Jon Tester (D) to call attention to the subject.

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