balkans / serbia

Suicidal thoughts high among Serbian gay youth

Almost one in 10 young gay Serbian men are considering suicide and 4% have developed a plan to kill themselves.

That’s according to new research released by Jelena Srdanović Maraš, a doctor of medical psychology.

In Serbia, 9% of homosexual young boys aged between 18 and 26 are currently thinking about suicide.

And she says the 4% who have developed a ‘suicide plan’ are directly at risk.

The research also shows 63% of gay youths interviewed had suicidal thoughts, compared to 23.9% of heterosexuals.

The report has been highlighted by Serbia’s only program to help suicidal young people – the LGBT SOS helpline was founded and led by the country’s Gayten-LGBT human rights organization.

LGBT SOS helpline coordinator, Milan Djurić, says: ‘We have undergone a special training course for calls of suicidal nature. I cannot say precisely, but in a lot of cases, people who turn to us have at least thought about suicide.

‘These are people who do not see a way out of a problem situation; they have no alternative, no solution.

‘There is often another parallel – if they don’t have an exit strategy, in terms of leaving the country and emigrating, and a lot of people have thought or fantasized about this – they don’t see a way out, don’t have a solution.

‘Calls from people on the verge of committing the act are very frequent.’

He says the helpline is particularly important for those living outside Serbia’s big cities where there are no direct services, little other support and higher levels of anti gay, bi and trans hate.

LGBT volunteers man the service after a two month training course, and Djurić says this increases trust in the helpline as gay and trans people in the country often distrust state-run services and institutions.

He does, however, say it is vital the government recognizes the significance of the service and supports its future work.

Djurić said the reasons for suicide vary but it is fueled by violence in families, fear, problems with accepting your sexuality, a ‘toxic’ feeling of shame, judgment, rejection, and discrimination at school or at work.

(Source: Gay Star News, 14 Oct 2013)

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