SALT LAKE CITY — As the number of suicides among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations continues to increase across the nation, concern among the Utah LGBT community has begun to push the issue into the spotlight.
In July, Utah's LGBT community lost at least three members to suicide, including a 28-year-old man whose death was mourned by more than 300 people during a candlelight vigil on the steps of the state Capitol.
Two other suicides of well-known members of the LGBT community, also gay men, have occurred in the past month. Though the problem is well known to LBGT advocates in Utah and nationwide, there are no statistics to back up its seriousness.
"This is a serious problem in general," said Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, "and it's a serious problem in Utah."
Since 2006, Larabee has served on the Utah Suicide Prevention Council, which has identified the state's LGBT community as a high-risk minority group for suicide.
Larabee said suicide is a common topic of discussion among support groups meeting at the Utah Pride Center.
"Over my 10 years here, every year we've had people (in the local LGBT community) who have killed themselves," she said.
Despite the lack of specific data on suicides among the LGBT community, officials say it's a problem.
"Suicide generally is a really tough field to study," said Anne Haaf, director of prevention projects for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, based in New York City. "As much research goes into it, it's still something that we don't have really firm answers to. Why does somebody take their life?"
Jacob Jacquez was among those at the state Capitol recently who paid his respects to his deceased friend.
"Unfortunately, this tragedy that has happened to my family impacts so many others the same way," said Jacquez, who had been in a relationship with the man. "Suicide, especially in the LGBT community, just happens too much."
- Newborn found in trash can brings call for help
- Parents say daughter didn't understand her...
- Audit reveals major concerns about UTA...
- Carbon monoxide leak suspected in death of 2...
- 3 Mormon missionaries die in 2 separate...
- Woman accused of leaving young son outside...
- Man arrested in connection with baby's death
- Lawmaker's proposal would offer free tuition...
- Back (home) to school: Thousands of... 53
- New poll shows many Utahns oppose and... 49
- Carbon monoxide leak suspected in death... 34
- Newborn found in trash can brings call... 34
- Court allows Utah more time to file gay... 34
- 3 Mormon missionaries die in 2 separate... 30
- LDS missionary critically injured in... 27
- Audit reveals major concerns about UTA... 22