Today, Utah Pride joins in mourning the loss of yet another one of our young people and calls on the Utah community, its leaders, its educators, its legislators, and its families to stand up to prevent suicide and the many factors that contribute to it.
Valerie Larabee, Executive Director of Utah Pride, said in a statement that, “We have a crisis in Utah that is fueled by a lack of education and acceptance of difference. Through our work we know that Utah’s teens, whether gay, perceived gay or straight are having a tough time dealing with the variety of forces pulling at them to behave or think one way or another. Education is absolutely vital to addressing myriad factors that contribute to suicidal behavior in Utah’s youth population. She added that “increased community pressure could and should push schools, faith based institutions, media and elected officials to do more to recognize and address the issues that underlie our higher than national suicide rates. Each loss of life is a severe reflection on the erosion of a civil and inclusive society.
Larabee cited the work of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University – a research-based education, support and policy initiative that helps ethnically and religiously diverse families, to support their LGBT children, schools and faith based communities. This work has strong implications for our youth serving institutions. “Any resource for adults to understand the impact of rejection in the lives of young people is worthy of being acknowledged,” Larabee said. “We hope anyone who has influence over a young life takes the time to learn about those things they can do to support the often difficult navigation to adulthood.
Utah Pride is working in conjunction with Salt Lake City’s Anti-bullying/Pro-Civility program, and has in place it’s own Zer0bully Hotline, 801.580.7680, staffed by a mental health professional. Bullying and harassment are significant factors impacting the health and well being of youth.