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LGBT Culture and Why Teenagers are Exploiting Suicidal Behaviors To Be Accepted
There is a lot of research showing how society has made life for those who are LGBT more difficult than the rest of society and concluded the mistreatment is the primary reason why the suicide rates are higher in those communities. Although I don’t disagree with the findings in terms of individual cases, I want to point out how peer pressure within teen social groups encourages victimization which leads to increased thoughts of suicide and a focus on suicide as a way to be accepted within their peer groups.
Niobe Way, Ed. D pointed out, In a study of 30 industrialized countries, epidemiologist Richard Wilkerson and Kate Pickett conclude that the two most important factors determining the health and wellbeing of people living in these countries are social status and friendships. The article further illustrates the fact that social standing in groups is critical to happiness and belonging. So what does that mean for teenage girls in fringe groups such as LGBT, Goth, Emo and others who have already been cast out from the popular high school groups. The loss of social standing in such groups could easily be seen as a last chance scenario.
So, when the group is focused on their own plight, when the group accepts that taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medicines is a badge of honor, what do LGBT teenagers do to make sure they are seen as normal and accepted in the group? It’s simple. They exaggerate their own depression and victimization by sharing suicidal thoughts and plans to commit suicide, if and when necessary to insure they have earned not only their badge in the group, but their diagnosis and treatment program to include the appropriate medicines that accepted group members are already taking. Those who have not yet accomplished this are seen as less than a full-fledged member of the community.
But wait… it gets worse. Any member of the group who thinks differently risks being ostracized by the group and risks being rejected which in turn could and would lead to actual depression seeing how LGBT and fringe groups have very few social options beyond their peers. And, if the above research by Way, Wilkerson and Pickett are as important as their findings suggest, then focusing on suicide and getting medicated are key elements to remaining in good standing in those groups.
In Japan, the honor culture and military tradition of committing suicide due to failure has continued for centuries. Although, suicide is currently on the decline in Japan, it clearly illustrates how culture, tradition and peer pressure can turn suicide from a horrible act to an acceptable behavior.
When you look at individuals who may be at risk for suicide and then add the group behavior to that risk, prevention approach becomes seriously complicated because you can’t just treat the individual… you must change the group culture to make an impact.
According to a report in Reuters, between 2003 and 2004 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings that antidepressants were tied to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in about one percent of children and teens. The agency required the warning to be printed on antidepressant drug labels in October 2004. Compare that to their report concluding about 8% of U.S. residents suffer from depression, that’s an alarming percentage of at risk individuals. Combine that with a huge problem of overprescribing anti-depressants then add the LGBT and other sub-cultures focusing on their own plight, their victimization, and then making suicidal thoughts and behaviors integral to group acceptance… you now have a huge problem within those groups and it has very little to do with societal persecution. Literally, it’s cool to not only think about being depressed, but to talk about it, talk about killing yourself to be accepted, and in some cases, teens are killing themselves to show their friends how cool they are… or at least attempting it to be accepted. Unfortunately, some succeed. It’s the equivalent of the worst hazing rituals now banned across the U.S. at colleges and universities.
This culture of suicide needs… no… must be addressed and stopped. It begins by changing the U.S. millennial culture of victimization. It begins by changing the focus from blaming society and others on your own problems and accepting responsibility for your own actions. Teenagers need to stop blaming their parents, their teachers, and other groups for their problems and believing life isn’t fair to them or their group. They have to stop feeling sorry for themselves and each other and focusing on their own victimization for the smallest issues in their lives.
But, more importantly, they have to break the cycle of believing that suicide is cool and being on anti-depressants is the answer to dealing with the problems in their lives despite big pharma teaching their doctors otherwise. They have to accept that in life, you don’t get to mask every pain. Sometimes, you just have to deal with difficult situations, rejection and failure head on and accept that you don’t always get to win and life is full of pain.
Unfortunately, teachers, administrators, doctors and parents are all giving teens a safe space, putting them on medications, and dealing with individual depression and problems while ignoring the group culture. The first step in fixing the group culture is admitting it exists. Until that happens... the root of the problem within this sub-group will continue to perpetuate the problem and LGBT teenage girls are at a very high risk.