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Utah Pride Center sponsors support group for survivors of suicide

The Utah Pride Center has initiated a Survivor of Suicide Attempts support group following a reported increase of gay suicides.

An increase in youth suicides was reported in the weeks that followed LDS Church’s November announcement regarding policies toward gay members and their children.

“There have been reports in the LGBTQ community that people did experience crisis and more thoughts following the announcement,” said Jillian Hill, coordinator of the Utah Pride Center’s Survivor of Suicide Attempts support group.

The policy statement released by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint late last year reaffirmed its beliefs that homosexuality is a sin, and added that:

  • Legal gay marriages are not recognized by the church.
  • Gay people in sexual relationships are considered apostates.
  • Children living in LGBT households will be banned from LDS Church rites such as blessings and baptism until they reach age 18, leave their parents’ homes, and renounce homosexuality.

The LDS Church announcement sparked protests including a mass resignation that reportedly took more than a thousand names off the church rolls.

In addition, counselor Chrysteil Hunter Bird ─ aka “a Mama Dragon” ─ reported on Facebook that she personally knew of 32 youth suicides in the first 81 days following the church announcement.

Of those, 28 reportedly were in Utah, which averages 37 youth suicides annually, according to L.T. Downing, a blogger who writes on LDS issues.

Hill said accurate suicide numbers are hard confirm due to family secrecy and the absence of required diagnoses by coroners, many of whom lack medical training anyway.

The Utah Utah Pride Center ─ formed to empower, celebrate and provide a safe place for Utah’s gay, bisexual, transexual and queer population ─ on Monday released information on its planned adult support group with the statement below:

“Following the announcement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ policies regarding members in same-sex relationships and their children, there has been increased public concern regarding suicide rates of members of the LGBTQIA+ community,” the statement said.

“The Utah Pride Center is currently recruiting participants for a new group for Survivors of Suicide Attempts. The mission of this group is to offer LGBTQIA+ suicide attempt survivors a safe, welcoming, and non-judgmental place to share their common experience of having survived a suicide attempt.”

Hill said the 8-week course will cover topics including giving and receiving support, coping with thoughts of suicide, accessing resources, and creating hope. Hill said many people with suicidal thoughts fear reaching out for help since authorities may immediately hospitalized against their will.

This will be the first group of its kind, she added, because it will use a curriculum just recently released by Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, and because this is the first time these materials have been used for a group exclusive to LGBTQ participants.

The group will be for LGBTQ participants 18 and older who have attempted suicide either recently or in the more distant past. The support group, funded in part by the Johnson Family Foundation, will be free to participants, and will be overseen by a licensed clinical social worker, Hill said.

Those interested in learning more about the group may contact Hill by calling 385-831-0872 or emailing her at [email protected] The Utah Pride Center is at 255 E. 400 South.

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