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Asking for help online: lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans youth, self-harm and articulating the 'failed' self

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Health
Issue number6
Volume19
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)561-577
Publication statusPublished
Early online date19/11/14
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

International evidence suggests that young people are less likely to seek help for mental health problems in comparison with adults. This study focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people who are a population group with an elevated risk of suicide and self-harm, and little is known about their help-seeking behaviour. Utilising qualitative virtual methods, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans youth web-based discussions about seeking help for suicidal feelings and self-harming were investigated. Findings from a thematic analysis indicate that these young people wanted assistance but found it difficult to (1) ask for help, (2) articulate emotional distress and (3) ‘tell’ their selves as ‘failed’. This analysis suggests that key to understanding these problems are emotions such as shame which arise from negotiating norms connected to heterosexuality, adolescence and rationality. I argue that these norms act to regulate what emotions it is possible to feel, what emotions it is possible to articulate and what type of young lives that can be told. The future development of health and social care interventions which aim to reduce lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans youth suicide and self-harm need to work with a nuanced understanding of the emotional life of young people if they are to be effective.