NYU, U of Arizona to Spearhead LGBT Youth Suicide Study

September 13, 2011

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The National Institute of Mental Health will provide a $2.8 million grant to New York University and the University of Arizona to study the causes behind the suicide risks for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. The three-year study will follow more than 1,000 LGBT youth aged 15 to 21 in three metropolitan areas in the US.  

The study will be led by Arnold Grossman, a professor in the Department of Applied Psychology at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and co-investigator Stephen Russell, Distinguished Professor and Endowed Chair and Director of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, & Families at the University of Arizona’s Norton School of Family and Consumer Studies.

“The knowledge we generate will allow us to more accurately assess LGBT youth at risk for suicidal behaviours, identify those risk factors that can be diminished at various developmental stages, and create preventive messaging and interventions that simultaneously increase protective factors, such as feeling more hopeful about the future, and reduce risk factors,” says Russell.

Full release here.

It's likely the study will yield disturbing data around the increase of negative social phenomena such as cyber-bullying, but hopeful it will reveal an increase in awareness among youth of anti-hate campaigns like The Trevor Project.  Anti-Hate campaigns continue to thrive, backed by politicians, sports icons and celebrities – people youth look up to as mentors. Just last week, Hollywood showed its support for Suicide Prevention Week by launching a series of anti-hate PSAs featuring Lilly Tomlin, Ricky Martin and Mariska Hargitay.

Since launch, the WeGiveADamn.org project has already become a vibrant community to more than 84,000 members and features the PSAs, blogs, testimonials and merchandise to help raise funds. Its Facebook, YouTube and Twitter channels area already drawing in droves numbering in the hundreds of thousands. This is critical given youth are among the highest in terms of digital adoption and use.

There’s little doubt the study will be groundbreaking and hopefully pave the way for more organizations – and people – to get involved and potentially save lives.