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Project Aims to Prevent LGBT Youth Suicide in Provo

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In response to high rates of suicide attempts for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth within the LDS community, a new pilot program is launching in Provo.

The project is spearheaded by a new organization called Continuum of Care for LGBTQ Youth. Executive Director Rachel Peterson says their main goal is to reduce youth suicide, which she says has reached epidemic proportions in Utah. They decided to start in the predominantly Mormon community of Provo, where they’ve heard from community partners that a lot of LGBT youth are in need of help.

“It’s hard for someone, particularly a youth to be navigating an LGBT identity and an LDS belief,” Peterson says. LGBT youth attempt suicide 4 times more often than their straight peers. The new program is designed to educate families and community members in how to identify those at risk of committing suicide and what to do about it. Peterson says how families respond can have a huge impact.

“We’re not trying to change their belief system,” she says. “We’re not trying to change their values, but just educating parents that your interactions with your youth, even if you can change them in small ways, behaviorally, you can save your child’s life, and that’s useful information to any parent.”

A series of free forums will be held at the Provo City Library to train community members on how to prevent youth suicide. The first is Wednesday, May 25th, with a focus on youth homelessness. Future forums will be focused on families and faith, school safety and bullying.

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