Health & Wellness

Mental health experts share advice to support LGBTQ+ relatives during Pride Month and beyond

A presentation planned on Wednesday entitled “Talk Saves Lives: An Introduction to LGBTQ Suicide Prevention,” will discuss suicide risk factors and warning signs, as well as simple ways to show support.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Pride Month is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, but the joyful revelry of parades and parties doesn’t diminish a community in pain.

“Compared to the general population, people who are part of the LGBTQ community are nearly half as times higher, they have 50% higher rate of suicide,” said Luma Bonilla-Webster, a program manager for the Illinois Chapter of the America Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“One of the most common issues is depression and anxiety and we know that those things, if they are not well treated, can lead to more extreme depression, even thoughts of suicide,” said Bonilla-Webster.

Bonilla-Webster is leading an upcoming virtual presentation at 6:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday, June 26, 2024, called, “Talk Saves Lives: An Introduction to LGBTQ Suicide Prevention,” sharing suicide risk factors and warning signs, as well as simple ways to show support.

“If you have someone around you who is part of the community, uplift them, check in on them, ask them what they need,” Bonilla-Webster said.

Research has found people often don’t know how to start that conversation. They worry that if they ask about suicide, it could be a trigger, but studies have found it’s okay to ask, “Are you thinking about suicide?”

“Specifically naming it. ‘Are you thinking about suicide?’ Research has said people who are asked that question feel seen, and they feel relief. Somebody is paying attention. Someone cares about me,” Bonilla-Webster said.

Many in the community fear asking for help, because they don’t know who to talk to.

“Those folks often lack LGBTQ-competent mental health providers. Sometimes they are afraid to seek out help because they might not find a therapist that is willing and accepting of those folks,” said Logan Spicer, LCPC with Thriveworks, a mental health provider of therapy and psychiatry with 13 locations in Illinois.

Spicer said there are resources available, but more community outreach is needed.

”Mental health providers need to get out into the community, offering support groups, getting their therapist names on online referral lists where you say that you are very willing and accepting of those folks,” Spicer said.

Bonilla-Webster emphasizes showing support means having that conversation.

“Checking In on each other all of the time, regardless of the season, obviously with it being Pride there’s a lot more love and acknowledgement hopefully happening within that, but we want that to happen all of the time,” Bonilla-Webster said.

Contact Us