Year: 2021 Source: BMC Public Health. (2020). 20, 1845. SIEC No: 20210050

Young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer as well as other sexual/gender minorities (LGBTQ+) persons have higher rates of suicidal ideation and behavior compared to their non-LGBTQ+ peers, particularly during their coming out. The “It Gets Better” project is a multi-national media campaign that aims to reduce suicide among LGBTQ+ adolescents by providing personal narratives of hope delivered by mainly adult LGBTQ+ persons. There is only little knowledge so far on how young LGBTQ+ people as well as experts in suicide prevention and counseling perceive these videos, and how to potentially improve the videos based on their perceptions.

A total of n = 19 LGBQ+ adolescents and young adults and n = 9 experts participated in focus groups to discuss perceptions of a selection of “It Gets Better” videos. Eight focus groups were conducted to assess perceptions on the process of watching the videos, possible effects on young LGBQ+ viewers in general, and suicidal LGBQ+ youth in particular, as well as factors that were relevant to their perceptions.

Messages were found to be helpful in terms of promoting hope. LGBQ+ youth identified several key strategies to increase identification with messages, which they considered crucial for their effectiveness. Criticism emerged from a perceived lack of diversity in terms of portrayed sexual identities, and some shallowness in the portrayal of suicidal ideation and how things can get better. The experts’ perceptions of the videos were largely consistent with LGBQ+ youth, highlighting a positive potential of videos to support coming out and identity building processes.

Young people and experts view the videos as helpful and relevant, but identified several strategies to better tailor them to the needs of LGBTQ+ adolescents, including suicidal peers. The insights gained are useful to the increasing number of suicide prevention projects using personal narratives of coping delivered via media to help prevent suicide.