Events target youth suicide

ORGANISERS: Skye Kinder and Asiel Adan-Sanchez.THE prevalence of youth suicide in our communities has been the focus of manyAustralian health organisations over recent years.

Unfortunately, a specific focuson same-sex attracted young people in rural areas and the significantly increasedsuicide rates of this population is often lacking.

To address this – for the first time in Australia – students of the Universityof Melbourne’s Rural Health Club (Outlook) and Queer Health Club (MDQueer)have startedto run joint events which highlight the high rates of self-harm in gay and lesbian young people in regional, ruraland remote areas.

The statistics around suicide are alarming.

Young men in regionalareas are twice as likely to tryto take their own lifethan men in the city.

Young men in towns of less than 4000 people are up to 12times more likelyto attempt suicide than their citycounterparts.

The statistics surrounding young gay men are terrifying, with young same-sex attracted men up to six times more likely to attempt suicide than the generalpopulation.

Some studies have even reported that up to 42 per centof young gay men inAustralia have tried to take their own lifeat least once.

Combining these shocking numbers it’s easy to imagine that young, gay,rural men must be at aunique risk for self-harm.

The first student-level rural queer health eventwas organised by myself and fellow medical student/queer health advocate AsielAdan-Sanchez.

Asiel is heavily involved in gay and lesbian health advocacy as an executive member of the UniMelb Queer Health Club and a Queer Health Officer for the Australian Medical Student’sAssociation.

Asiel, myselfand our teams were able to pool our resources and invite two very enlighteningpresenters to the University of Melbourne.

Our speakers discussed how we asfuture health professionals can better support the mental health of same-sexattracted young people in rural areas.

Our first speaker for this inaugural event was DoctorVincent Cornelisse – a GP witha plethora of knowledge about gay and lesbian healthcare in rural communitieshaving worked in remote communities across the country.

He hasfirst-hand experience of what it’s like to be out and proud as a gay doctor in countryAustralia andshared his experiences in adocumentary The Doctors Wife.

Our second speaker was Daniel Witthaus, founder and CEO of the NationalInstitute for Challenging Homophobia Education.

In 2010, Daniel embarked ona 38-week journey across rural and remote Australia with his message againsthomophobia.

His bookBeyond Priscilladocuments the experiences of LGBTAustralians living in regional, rural and remote communities that he met alongthe way.

The event was highly successful, with many medical students (our futuredoctors) commenting that they felt much more able to support young gaypatients, and requesting further events that cover this very important topic.

While this has only been the start of our mission at the University of Melbourneto improve the mental health of same-sex attracted young people living inregional, rural and remote areas, it has been one big step in a very importantdirection.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.