Gay / Bisexual Male Youth Suicide Problems
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Étude: Tentatives de Suicide 
Chez des Adolescents et 
Jeunes Hommes Homosexuels 
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Social Construction of Male Homosexuality and Related Suicide Problems...MORT OU FIF: Contextes et mobiles de tentatives de suicide chez des adolescents et jeunes hommes homosexuels ou identifiés comme tels. Et perspectives de prévention. [Québec Study - Death or Fag: The contexts and motives for suicide attempts by adolescent and young adult homosexually oriented males. Recommendations for suicide prevention.]

Par Michel Dorais, Ph.D. Professeur - Faculté des sciences sociales - Université Laval, et Simon Louis Lajeunesse, étudiant en sociologie, Université Laval, Québec, Canada.

Cette étude constitue l'une des premières de ce type dans le monde francophone (à noter que le mot «fif» signifie «pédé» en français québécois). Elle fut subventionnée par le Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux du Québec, en collaboration avec Gai Écoute, est publiée par le Centre de recherche sur les services communautaires de l'Université Laval, Québec.

Ces résultats sont disponibles, sous la forme d'un ouvrage d'environ 120 pages, à compter du 16 octobre 2000, au coût de 10$ canadien par exemplaire  frais de poste inclus pour tous pays. Pour commander, communiquer avec madame Sylvie Drolet par courrier: CRSC, Pavillon de Koninck, bur. 2446, Université Laval, Québec, CANADA, G1K 7P4 - par téléphone: (001) 418-656-2131, poste 2674 ou par courriel: crsc@crsc.ulaval.ca

Résumé

Cette étude aborde un double tabou: celui de l'homosexualité et celui du suicide chez les adolescents ou jeunes adultes. En dépit de recherches quantitatives assez concluantes menées au cours des dernières années, il y a encore réticence à reconnaître les liens possibles entre la stigmatisation sociale de l'homosexualité et le nombre élevé de tentatives de suicide chez les garçons homosexuels ou identifiés comme tels. C'est pourquoi le but de cette étude qualitative, basée sur de nombreux récits de vie, fut de comprendre comment les conditions de vie réservées à ces jeunes pouvaient amener certains d'entre eux à tenter de mettre fin à leur existence.

Après avoir fait le point sur la recherche nord-américaine portant sur le suicide chez les garçons homosexuels, quatre scénarios sont identifiés chez les jeunes interrogés: le parfait garçon, qui devient perfectionnisme et plus ou moins asexué pour se dédouaner de sa différence; le caméléon, dont personne ne soupçonne l'homosexualité secrète et qui se perçoit plus ou moins comme un imposteur; le fif de service, bouc émissaire des autres jeunes, en particulier à l'école, avec tous les problèmes d'estime de soi que cela provoque; enfin, le rebelle, en révolte ouverte contre le sort qui lui est fait à cause de son homosexualité.

Il ressort notamment de cette étude que c'est dans la famille et à l'école que se retrouvent les plus grandes difficultés à vivre l'homosexualité à l'adolescence. Dans les locaux scolaires et dans les cours (en particulier ceux d'éducation physique), le dénigrement, voire des agressions envers les jeunes identifiés comme homosexuels sont souvent tolérés. Personne ne confronte les propos et les actes homophobes. Dans la famille, le dévoilement de l'homosexualité représente souvent une crise qui fragilise d'autant plus les jeunes gais ou bisexuels qu'ils n'ont alors plus personne vers qui se tourner, l'école et la famille étant leur principaux milieux de vie.

Les jeunes homosexuels suicidaires ne voient plus aucune perspective d'avenir devant eux. La non reconnaissance sociale de leur existence et de leur réalité, voire le rejet et les violences qu'ils subissent, contribuent grandement à provoquer leurs tendances puis leurs tentatives suicidaires. Le suicide chez les jeunes homosexuels ou bisexuels est la conséquence directe et prévisible de l'absence de place qu'ils ont dans la société.

Tout, ou presque, concoure à leur passer le même message: on aimerait mieux qu'ils n'existent pas. Certains d'entre eux ne comprennent que trop bien ce message. C'est pourquoi cette étude est un appel à une meilleure prévention du suicide chez les jeunes homosexuels ou bisexuels, prévention qui passe par plus d'information et de sensibilisation auprès des jeunes et des adultes qu'ils côtoient (parents, professeurs, aidants, etc.). Des perspectives de sensibilisation sur le vécu de ces jeunes et des pistes de prévention du suicide sont donc proposées pour contrer leur désarroi d'une part et l'indifférence, l'incompréhension ou l'intolérance auxquelles ils font face d'autre part.

Social Construction of Male Homosexuality and Related Suicide Problems...Professeur et chercheur à l'Université Laval, Michel Dorais a publié plusieurs recherches ou essais sur la marginalisation sociale, la sexualité et la condition masculine, parmi lesquels - Tous les hommes le font, La mémoire du désir, La peur de l'autre en soi: du sexisme à l'homophobie (ouvrage collectif), Ça arrive aussi aux garçons et Éloge de la diversité sexuelle, tous parus chez VLB éditeur.

Social Construction of Male Homosexuality and Related Suicide Problems...French Resources directly or indirectly related to GLB suicide problems, including links to parts of the book - La peur de l'autre en soi: du sexisme à l'homophobie.

English Translation:

Translation by Pierre Tremblay in collaboration with Michel Dorais.

Better Dead Than A Fag: The contexts and motives for suicide attempts by adolescent and young adult homosexually oriented males. Recommendations for suicide prevention.

By Michel Dorais, Ph.D. Professeur - Faculté des sciences sociales - Université Laval, Québec, Canada.

Abstract

The study tackles a double taboo: adolescent homosexuality and suicide. In spite of quantitative research having established the higher suicidality risks for homosexually oriented youth, there has been an ongoing reluctance to recognize the possible links between the social stigmatization of homosexuality and the elevated risks for suicidal behaviors by homosexually oriented boys. The purpose of this qualitative study, based on many life stories, was to better understand the life situation imposed on these youth which resulted in their attempt(s) to terminate their lives.

This study reviews the North American studies reporting on the higher risk for suicide problems by homosexually oriented male youth and proceeds to identify four major life scenarios for male youth who have attempted suicide. The perfect boy becomes a perfectionist and more or less asexual in an effort to minimize the difference between himself and what society would define him to be; the chameleon is not suspected to be homosexual and perceives himself to more or less be an imposter; the designated fag serves as the scapegoat, especially at school, and he experiences serious self-esteem problems; and, finally, the rebel is in open revolt against the fate imposed on him because of his same-sex desires.

A major result of the study is the recognition that it is in the family and at school that homosexual male youth experience the greatest difficulties. In public school environments and especially courses such as physical education, the verbal and physical abuses of boys said to be homosexual is often tolerated. No one challenges homophobic statement and behaviors. In families, the knowledge that an offspring is homosexual often results in a crisis which makes the gay or bisexual individual even more vulnerable and at risk because they now have no one to turn to in the major areas of their lives.

The young gay or bisexual suicide attempters see no hope for the future. They are living the social non-recognition of their existence, and this rejection, combined with the violence directed at them, contributes greatly in provoking suicidal feelings and suicide attempts. Gay and bisexual male youth suicide problems are the direct predictable consequence of society not having a positive space for these youth to occupy.

Almost everyone collaborates in giving these youth the same message: we would be very happy if you did not exist. Many of these youth understand the message well. This study therefore recommends improvements in suicide prevention efforts directed at young gay and bisexual individuals, and it is also important to impart sensitization information to peers, family members, helping professionals, and others who will be interacting with these youth. The dissemination of information related to their lives and informed suicide prevention efforts are emphasized to counter the many problems of these youth, exacerbated by the general indifference, lack of understanding, and intolerance they will often encounter in their everyday lives.

Michel Dorais is a professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Université Laval, Québec, Canada. He has published research works and essays on social marginalization and sexuality as related to masculinity. Some of his works - all in French as listed above and published by VLB éditeur - would likely have the following titles if they were to be published in English: All Men Do It, The Recall of Desire, The Fear of the Other in Oneself: from sexism to homophobia (co-editor, and contributor), It Also Happens to Boys (on the sexual abuse of boys), and Celebrating Sexual Diversity.

Ordering the Book:

1. The study noted on this web page - published on October 16, 2000 - is available in French as a 120-page text for $10.00 Canadian (includes the postage to all countries). To order, please contact Mrs Sylvie Drolet by mail: CRSC, Pavillon de Koninck, bur. 2446, Université Laval, Québec, CANADA, G1K 7P4 - by telephone: (001) 418-656-2131, extension 2674 - or by email: crsc@crsc.ulaval.ca

2. The book is also available - as another edition - from VLB Editeur. Related information at http://www.edvlb.com/  for $14.95 Canadian. This - link  - may take you directly to the book citation.

3. As of April, 2000, the book has appeared in a third edition - in France.

4. An English translation of the book will be available early on 2002.

Preface

Translated by Pierre Tremblay

Nicholas has been target for hurtful homophobic comments by classmates for years without anyone at school ever intervening.  As the model student, he never complained about the situation. His friends did not consider him masculine enough and the talk was that he was "a fag." One day, as the class was passing next to the school's swimming pool, some boys threw him into the pool, fully clothed. Everyone, including the teacher, had a good laugh. Nicolas was humiliated and distressed, and the event became the straw that broke the camel's back. He had enough and, the next day, he threw himself to his death from the top of the village's railway bridge.

After Nicolas' funeral, a recently hired teacher tried in vain to sensitize his school about the possible relationship between the ostracism inflicted on Nicolas and his suicide. His efforts were met with the firm recommendation to be silent on this issue and, the next year, his teaching contract was not renewed.

This story was told to us by the mother of the boy who killed himself a little less than a year ago. He was fifteen years-old.

Jean-Philippe was an inquisitive adolescent involved with others and very much attentive to their needs; he was the confidant for many of his friends. In so many ways, he was the kid many parents dream about having.  However, a deep secret troubled him greatly.  After his sister discovered him hanging from a wooden beam in the family home, the note written just before his final act was discovered:

To all who love me and to the ones who did not love me. I am sick of this shit of a life. Sick, to the point of wanting to puke!!! I am so lonely. So alone with what I am suffering. I rather die than to go on suffering like this.

Jean-Philippe xxx

PS: By the way, I was gay and I would like to say to the ones who still love me that I will never forget them.

In an attempt to retrace what could have happened to precipitate Jean-Philippe's crisis, his parents discovered that he had recently visited many Internet sites with homosexual content. Without doubt, the revelation or the confirmation of his attraction to same-sex individuals caused great distress, bringing him to anticipate the worse. This is what his parents believe, but they insist that they would have been supportive for their son if only he had told them of his problems. Unfortunately, we will never know exactly what Jean-Philippe was feeling, much like he will never know that he would have had parents much more accepting of him than he may have believed. He was 14-years-old when he died. It happened on Saturday, the only day he had ever failed to deliver the morning newspapers.
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