Australia’s first suicide prevention guidelines to support LGBTQA+ youth

Posted 22nd August 2022 in Sector news

The Telethon Kids Institute has launched Australia’s first best practice guidelines for clinical and community service providers to support LGBTQA+ young people who may be at risk of suicide.

The guidelines are aimed at health professionals and community service providers who are in regular contact with young people, including teachers and police. The aim is to create environments where all young people feel comfortable asking for help.

The development of the guidelines was led by researchers from Telethon Kids Institute, in collaboration with Orygen, University of Western Australia, and Western Australia’s Child and Adolescent Health Service. Clinical and community service professionals provided input as well as young LGBTQA+ people with lived experience of suicidal thoughts or behaviour.

The guidelines are made up of clear recommendations set out under four broad areas:

  • Creating an affirming and inclusive environment for LGBTQA+ young people
  • Assessing suicide risk and working with suicidal LGBTQA+ young people
  • Considerations for specific LGBTQA+ populations (e.g. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, trans or neurodiverse LGBTQA+ young people)
  • Advocating for LGBTQA+ young people.

Many of the recommendations are straightforward to implement, such as altering how gender is described on forms or when and how to ask questions about someone’s sexuality or gender.

As explained in the published media release, Telethon Kids Institute's Co-head of Youth Mental Health and senior researcher on the guidelines, Dr Yael Perry, said that young people involved in the development of the guidelines were keen to make sure services were not just being tokenistic in their support of LGBTQA+ youth, and described the need for genuine engagement with this population.

Lead researcher, Dr Penelope Strauss, said, “I think there are a lot of service providers who want to do better in this area. Most people coming through their training as a GP or psychologist or a youth worker don’t get very much exposure to training around LGBTQA+ identities or health, so they are often very poorly equipped to support this population.”

The guidelines will be made available to service providers across Australia and supported by workshops.

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