Nicolas Parkhill
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill

LGBTI people are more at risk of committing suicide than any other group in this country.

In fact, according to a report compiled by Beyond Blue in 2013, “Lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians are twice as likely to have a high/very high level of psychological distress as their heterosexual peers.”

As this is the case, it would be foolish to be anything other than thrilled that the NSW State government has just announced that it will provide ACON with $500, 000 in funding so that it may continue to provide suicide prevention services to Sydney’s LGBTI community. This funding is available as part of the NSW government’s Suicide Prevention Fund of $8 million, which will run for four years as part of the 2016/17 Budget.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill says, “The effects of discrimination, exclusion and violence on the mental health of LGBTI people are well documented. We also know that because of stigma and discrimination, many LGBTI people are reluctant to seek professional help.”

This funding news is fabulous. LGBTI people do need better access to suicide prevention services and to GPs who are equipped to deal with mental health problems specific to LGBTI people.

However, the elephant in the room is that the reason LGBTI people get depressed and want to commit suicide is, generally speaking, because they face intolerance, bullying and discrimination in the wider community. This makes them feel that they are less worthy than other people, and that they are alone in their struggles.

Instead of shelling out cash to try to stop LGBTI people from killing themselves once they’re already mentally unwell, would it not be a better idea to teach kids not to discriminate, and that everyone is equal and deserving of love and respect, regardless of their sexual or gender identity?

Wouldn’t it be a great idea to run a nationwide education program in high schools and primary schools making sure our future leaders understand and cultivate this acceptance, making LGBTI people feel safe, secure and embraced from a young age? We could call it…. Safe Sch – oh, right, yeah.