Increasing Reports of Suicidal Thoughts Among LGBTQ Youth
The Trevor Project has released a new study that shows suicide rates among LGBTQ youths in America have increased over three years.
This survey was published on Wednesday and found that 45 percent of LGBTQ youth have seriously considered suicide. In addition, LGBTQ youth of colour reported higher suicide rates than their white counterparts. That’s a five percentage point increase overall from three years ago and a continuation of an alarming trend: comparing The Trevor Project’s annual national surveys over the past three years, reports of LGBTQ youth seriously considering suicide have increased from 40% to 42% to 45%.
The statistics are even more stark with regard to young trans and nonbinary people. The past year saw 59% of transgender males and females seriously consider suicide, 53% of nonbinary young people and 48% transgender girls or women. 22% reported that transgender men and boys attempted suicide within the last year, as opposed to 6% for cisgender men and boys.
“I think that the biggest takeaway overall is that LGBTQ youth suicide is a public health crisis, and that so many of the challenges that are coming up in the world over the past three years are only exacerbating the crisis that we already knew existed,” says Amit Paley, the CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project.
Between September 20th and December 31st 2021, the nonprofit collected data via an online survey platform. This survey surveyed 33,993 people between the ages of 13 and 24 in the United States. They were targeted through social media ads. A majority of the respondents identified as LGBTQ youths of color, with 48% reporting being transgender or nonbinary. Respondents are considered LGBTQ if they identify with an orientation that is not heterosexual or a gender identity that is different from cisgender.
LGBTQ youth are subject to unique stresses that can exacerbate their mental health problems. According to a March 20 NBC News analysis, there have been a number of anti-LGBTQ legislation filed by conservative state lawmakers. Trans youth have been a particular focus of lawmakers. In fact, 15 states prohibit trans students from participating in sports that are compatible with their gender identity. Two states passed laws that prohibited classroom instruction regarding sexual orientation and gender identity for certain grade levels. Three states prohibit young people from receiving gender-affirming services. In March, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott directed state officials to investigate the families of trans youth who’d received such care for child abuse.
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LGBTQ activists warn of the dangers that these laws might have. “We also hear from young people who are not in the states that are impacted by these laws yet, but who are just worried that there are so many people in the country who are using their time to attack LGBTQ kids,” says Paley. A report showed that 66% of LGBTQ youth who sought mental health services in the last 12 months reported being denied access to it.
These data indicate that creating an affirming environment at home and school could help you prevent suicide. According to the report, less than one third of transgender and nonbinary teens felt validated in their gender identity at home. Additionally, LGBTQ youth with high levels of social support reported trying suicide at half the rate than those who had low or moderate support. Survey results showed that LGBTQ youth who identified their school as LGBTQ-affirming had lower attempts at suicide. “Sometimes people look at a broad social trend like this, and they think about laws that need to change, policies that need to change, and those do need to happen,” Paley says. “But every single person has the ability to create a different experience for the young people in their life.”
This is a trend that has been occurring across the nation, with LGBTQ youth facing worsening mental health issues. In December 2021, the U.S. surgeon general issued a rare public warning that young Americans are facing a “devastating” mental health crisis driven by the particular challenges of their generation, including two years of a global pandemic that exacerbated isolation and loneliness. But even before the pandemic, in 2017, 13% of U.S. teens ages 12 to 17 said they’d experienced a major depressive episode in the past year, up 8% from 2007, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
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