Advances in Suicide Prevention: Research, Practice, and Policy Implications for LGBT Populations

Event Type:  General Webinar
Date:  Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm (America/New_York)
Sponsor:  SPRC

For information, contact:

Dominique Lieu

In its efforts to address behavioral health disparities, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has prioritized the goal of suicide prevention among vulnerable populations, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. Despite strong indications of elevated risk of suicidal behavior in LGBT people, limited attention has been given to research, interventions, or suicide prevention programs targeting these populations. This webinar will offer participants up-to-date information about what is already known about LGBT suicide risk across the lifespan as well as what is being done to improve future research.

Learning Objectives:

  • Review what is known about suicide risk among LGBT populations across the lifespan.
  • Identify gaps in research and describe how this impacts our understanding of the scope of the problem and design of prevention strategies.
  • Describe new work to develop and test a protocol for collecting postmortem data on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Explain a research-based health and mental health family support model that helps ethnically- and religiously-diverse families to support their LGBT children.
  • Identify relevant resources available to researchers and practitioners.

Please note that we do not offer CEUs or certificates for this webinar.

Dr. Russell will report on the findings of an expert panel focused on the need to better understand suicidal behavior and suicide risk in sexual minority populations. He will summarize existing research findings; he will also share recommendations for addressing knowledge gaps and applying current knowledge to relevant areas of suicide prevention practice.

Dr. Haas's presentation will focus on recent efforts to address the critical need for valid, generalizable data on the sexual orientation and gender identity of individuals who die by suicide. This will include a brief review of how the lack of systematic data about suicide mortality among (LGBT) people significantly limits our understanding of suicide risk in these populations, and hence our ability to develop and implement appropriate and effective intervention and prevention strategies. Recently, agencies and organizations responsible for collecting and reporting on mortality data convened to address this challenge. Dr. Haas will report on the outcome of this meeting and describe the next steps in a ground-breaking effort to determine the manner and causes of suicide mortality among LGBT people. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of opportunities for participants to become involved in this work.

Dr. Ryan will provide information about recent developments in the Family Acceptance Project, a research, intervention, education and policy project that helps ethnically and religiously diverse families to support their LGBT children in the context of their family, culture, and faith communities. This research-based family support model includes counseling strategies, assessment tools, and multicultural family education materials to help parents, foster parents, and caregivers prevent health risks, including suicide, and promote their LGBT children's well-being.

Event Presenter(s)

Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D., is Interim Director of the John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Arizona. He is also Distinguished Professor and Fitch Nesbitt Endowed Chair in Family and Consumer Sciences, and Director of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and Families. Stephen conducts research on adolescent pregnancy and parenting, cultural influences on parent-adolescent relationships, and the health and development of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. He received a Wayne F. Placek Award from the American Psychological Foundation (2000), was a William T. Grant Foundation Scholar (2001-2006), a Distinguished Investigator of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (2009-2011), a board member of the National Council on Family Relations (2005-2008), and was elected as a member of the International Academy of Sex Research in 2004. He is Past President of the Society for Research on Adolescence.

Ann Haas, Ph.D., is Senior Consultant to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). She has been with AFSP since 1999, previously holding positions as Director of Research and Senior Director of Education and Prevention. Her research and prevention activities have focused on suicide and suicide risk in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations, teens and college students, and veterans. She was lead author of a 2011 consensus report, Suicide and Suicide Risk in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Populations: Review and Recommendations, which appeared in the January 2011 edition of the Journal of Homosexuality. In May 2014, Dr. Haas organized and co-chaired a convening of federal, state and professional agencies on postmortem collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data. She has served on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Task Force on LGBT Populations, and is a frequent national speaker on topics related to LGBT suicide risk. Before coming to AFSP, Dr. Haas was Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Sciences at The City University of New York, and held appointments at New York Medical College and the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Montrose, NY.

Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D., ACSW, is the Director of the Family Acceptance Project. Dr. Ryan is a clinical social worker who has worked on LGBT health and mental health for nearly 40 years. She received her clinical training with children and adolescents at Smith College School for Social Work. Dr. Ryan pioneered community-based AIDS services at the beginning of the epidemic; initiated the first major study to identify lesbian health needs in the early 1980s; and has worked to implement quality care for LGBT youth since the early 1990s. She started the Family Acceptance Project with Dr. Rafael Diaz in 2002 to help diverse families to decrease rejection and prevent related health risks for their LGBT children - including suicide, homelessness and HIV - and to promote family acceptance and positive outcomes including permanency.

Populations:  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Transgender People
Planning and Implementing:  Policy and Legislation