Pierre J. Tremblay
at the Sixth Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Suicide
Prevention, Banff, Alberta, October 11-14, 1995, (c) Oct 1995. First made
available on the Internet on January 19, 1996.
Homosexually active gay and bisexual young adult males are over-represented
in the male youth attempted suicide problem, and the same would apply for
gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth of colour. An over-representation of these
youth is also predicted in the suicide problem. It has been demonstrated
that gay and bisexual male youth, who form about 10% of the male population,
are about 6-times more at risk for suicide attempts than heterosexual youth,
and would account for about 40%, maybe 50%, of male youth suicide attempters.
These males, along with heterosexual males who were sexually abused
also form about 90% of the young adult male suicide attempters. Therefore,
suicidologists must begin asking and answering an important question: Why
have most studies of youth suicide problems not been concerned with identifying
sexual orientation, and child sexual abuse in their research work? Is this
how truly scientific work should be done? Is it acceptable for suicidologists
to have generally avoided doing anything to understand and help gay, lesbian,
and bisexual youth despite the taboo nature of their sexuality? Was it
ethical for mental health professionals until recently to have deemed all
gay and lesbian people to be mentally disordered, and to have behaved accordingly?
Has it been ethical, given the facts of the case, for suicidologists to
have generally ignored GLB issues? Why did this happen?
This paper is dedicated to all the gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth who
died believing that no one in the world could help them, or committed suicide
after they sought help but were harmed. I am eternally grateful to all
the gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth I have met over the years who told
me their story with the hope that the world may someday be a better place
for other GLB youth now growing up. For some, the child abuse inflicted
will have lethal consequences, but most will survive, often bearing hidden
scars from the war society waged against them.
Dedicated also to Virginia Uribe (the founder of PROJECT 10 in Los Angeles)
who, after having learned about our world, often by hearing teachers speak
about homosexuality in staff rooms, stated: "No wonder the kids commit
suicide. I'm surprised they don't all kill themselves. If they really were
aware of how much hatred there is, they probably would" (82:86).
I thank my mother and father, Dorothy and Hervey Tremblay, for their
ongoing encouragement, and all who have helped to get the GLB reality on
many agendas in Calgary. This includes Bill Rutherford (President, Parents/Friends
of Lesbians and Gays, Calgary chapter), Gerry Harrington (Director, SIEC),
Gloria Wilson (AADAC), Pam Greer (Canadian Red Cross), Bruce Potter (Calgary
Birth Control Association), Pat Boyle and Don Andrews (Calgary Board of
Education), Bishop Paul O'Byrne and Jim Pender (Roman Catholic Diocese
of Calgary), Peter Hodgson (I-DENTITY: GLB youth group), Les Meares and
Jim Picken (Integrity: GLB Anglican group), and the individuals listed
For this paper, I thank Dr. Christopher Bagley (Faculty of Social Work,
University of Calgary) for his support and for the research data which
made this paper into a much needed contribution to the field of Suicidology,
Dick Ramsay (Faculty of Social Work, U of C), and Dr. Gary Sanders (Faculty
of Medicine, U. of C.) for their assistance and editorial comments.
I especially thank Stephen Lock (Gay Lines Calgary) for his greatly
appreciated editing work, and for 3 interviews related to GLB youth problems
on Calgary's only weekly GLB radio program, Speak Sebastian, on CJSW-FM.
Also: SRC-TV (French CBC) in Winnipeg and Calgary for interviews, CBC Radio
in Calgary for being on The Home Stretch program, and Alanna Mitchell (Globe
& Mail, Calgary) for writing an article (June 23, 1995) about my work
in the GLB suicide problem and my proactive work in Calgary's school system.
Chris Hooymans, the former publisher of a GLB magazine, designed the cover
page for this paper.