During Suicide Awareness month last year, I focused on talking to your teen about suicide. This year, I’d like to focus on a particular subset of youth: LGBTQIA+ youth.
The majority of the information in today’s blog comes from the Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. The Trevor Project is a national organization dedicated to preventing suicide among LGBTQIA+ youth. This survey comes from the responses of nearly 34,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 in the United States.
While I highly suggest reading the entire report on your own, here are some key takeaways:
- Nearly 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 14% of LGBTQ youth attempted suicide. Compare this to 14% of straight youth who seriously considered and 6% of straight youth who attempted.
- Some particular groups within the LGBTQIA+ youth community that reported
- higher consideration and attempts: transgender/nonbinary youth (particularly
- transgender youth of color), Native/Indigenous youth, Black youth, and Middle Eastern/Northern African youth.
- About 60% of LGBTQ youth who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it.
Statistics like those above are often misused to promote a variety of erroneous beliefs. According to the study, here are some of the big reasons reported by LGBTQ youth why suicide rates are so high:
- Discrimination and Physical Harm: Nearly 73% of LGBTQ youth reported experiencing at least one act of discrimination in their lifetime. About 36% of LGBTQ youth reported that they have been physically threatened or harmed. Those youth who have experienced discrimination or physical harm have nearly three times higher suicide attempts than those youth who did not.
- Unsupportive home and/or school environment: Nearly 40% of LGBTQ youth reported living in a community that was unaccepting, and about 21% of those who identified being in a very unaccepting community attempted suicide (compared to 8% in a very accepting community).
- Conversion Therapy: Around 17% of LGBTQ youth were threatened with or subjected to conversion therapy. They are nearly three times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers who did not encounter conversion therapy.
So, what can you do to decrease the chances of suicidality in your LGBTQ youth?
- Be supportive: A study by the CDC found that LGBTQ youth having at least one affirming parent in the household decreases the risk of a suicide attempt by 40%.
- Ensure a supportive environment: Check to see if your child’s school is supporting of LGBTQ youth. Do they offer clubs/organizations for LGBTQ youth? Do they have inclusive language in their nondiscrimination policies? If not, talk to your youth to see how you can support them in this.
- Seek professional help: According to the Trevor Project survey, about 82% of LGBTQ youth indicated that they wanted mental health care. Sadly, 60% of those who indicated that they wanted it did not receive it. Check with your child to see if they would like to talk to someone about their experiences.
We at Heartland Therapy Connection would love to meet with your LGBTQ youth. Whether it’s teaching skills to manage stress and anxiety or having a safe place to process difficult situations, our therapists are ready and willing to assist! In addition, if you are needing support as a parent, we can provide that as well! Contact us at (816) 287-0252 today with any questions or to book an appointment today!