First, no matter what someone believes about the morality of homosexual behavior, suicide is an awful thing which every decent person should hope to see eradicated, and it is especially tragic among teenagers.
With that being said, LGBT activists and sympathizers are facing a real conundrum in light of current suicide statistics. The rate of suicide among LGBT youth is significantly higher than that of non LGBT kids (though I suspect a similar disproportion is true of adult populations as well), and this hasn't changed in forty years. In other words, despite the rainbow tsunami that has swept the collective moral conscience of the West over the past half-century, people with homosexual tendencies are apparently still experiencing as much internal conflict as when the vast majority of people in the culture believed their behavior to be as perverse as incest or open marriage. This leaves some activists scratching their heads. Listen, for example, to the comments of Dr. Ann Haas, senior consultant for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, about a CDC report showing LGBT youth to be disproportionately prone to suicide:
[The CDC report] "paints a picture of marginalization in every aspect of LGB high school students' lives. It's a question of being marginalized, really, both in terms of young people's inner sense of who they are and how they're treated by others. There's a psychological and emotional component that we see when looking at suicide among all other groups, and it's even more prevalent here."
Setting aside for the moment that psychological and emotional problems are the only components (and thus not “components”) in suicide, Dr. Haas' words in the article betray some consternation. Though she tries, she can’t really blame the psychological dissonance in LGBT people on the oppressive religious culture when the culture is neither religious nor oppressive, and she admits this:
"For a while, [researchers] thought that the cultural climate improved and LGBT people weren't facing the same overt limitations and discrimination. We'd expect to see this sort of disturbing trend [of suicide] decline. It's striking that it hasn't—it seems just as likely to occur today as it did in the 1970s, from what we can tell—but we can't be totally sure at the moment."
If improvement in the cultural climate means acceptance of homosexuality, there’s not a lot of room left for improvement. The Supreme Court of The United States has ruled that same-sex marriages are legitimate in the eyes of the law. To celebrate this, the sitting U.S. President had The White House illuminated with rainbow lights. We now have a designated “pride month.” Rainbow flags and equality stickers are everywhere. In the majority of social circles in the Western world, few things will evoke more sympathy, more applause, more adamant affirmation, than coming out as gay. Athletes, actresses, musicians, whole sports franchises and corporations are falling over themselves to make sure everyone knows gay is okay!
And yet, the CDC tells us that the rate of suicide attempts among LGBT students in 2015 was five times higher than that of straight students.
Of course, many will try to get more millage out of the bullying explanation, especially when it can be blamed on religious motives. This is evident in a CNN article from last year:
"What's driving [troubled LGBT teens to suicide]…is that not all teens live in a supportive culture, even with the advances in same-sex marriage, inclusive anti-bullying programs and non-discrimination protection. Many evangelical Christians, for instance, still preach that LGBTQ kids are going to hell.”
Well, there aren’t many evangelical Christians in my neighborhood, but I did count 4 rainbow flags within a ten-block walk from my house last week, and culturally speaking, I don’t live anywhere near San Francisco. The religious bullying explanation has always been based on a false premise, but in the midst of the current surge of gay affirmation, it now comes across as whiny straw-grasping.
Maybe, instead, the reason why people of all ages who have no restraint against their sexual urges are still so deeply conflicted in the midst of such an affirming culture is that way down deep in that place where conscience is still impervious to culture, they know—even against such a tidal wave of activism—that they're behaving in a way that violates their essence as human beings.
No one can develop into a morally strong person until he or she realizes that we have a corrupt, animal nature. If our natural urges and desires are not restrained, directed, and opposed by our will to do right, then we have lost our ability to do right or wrong. In that case, we're just animals doing what animals do. My neighbors have two dogs. A couple of weeks ago they were being true to their sexual orientation by having sex on the front porch in front of all who happened to be walking by. I wouldn't expect the dogs to be ashamed of themselves for this, but people are supposed to operate by a different standard.
Most people have heard some version of a fairytale where a human is turned into a frog and is then disgusted at himself for eating flies and indulging in other disgusting froggy behavior. We are all frogs in that sense. We all have animal urges that can lead us to do disgusting things if we do not control them. The process of controlling is the process of moral development, and we cannot grow to be morally strong without it. This struggle against our corrupt animal nature is what it means to be human. A virtuous life is a life in which the moral human will controls and appropriates the animal urges. This is why there is a fundamental difference between people and animals, and why one of the worst insults one person can give to another is to say that someone is behaving "like an animal." As G.K. Chesterton said, "If you wanted to dissuade a man from drinking his tenth whisky you would slap him on the back and say, 'Be a man.' No one who wished to dissuade a crocodile from eating his tenth explorer would slap it on the back and say, 'Be a crocodile.'”
The message LGBT youth (and everyone else) need to hear is, “I know you have bad sexual urges. Most people do in one way or another. That doesn’t mean you’re any worse or better than anyone else. It means you’re a human being. I care about you, and I want you to learn self-control so that you can grow into a well-adjusted, morally upright adult and help others do the same.”
If, instead, adults tell them to indulge their corrupt animal urges and that those urges should be the basis of their identity, then those youth are being encouraged to live more like frogs or dogs by adults who are living more like crocodiles.