Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24. Youth who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT), are at significantly greater risk of attempting suicide than non-LGBT youth. Increased bullying by peers, parental rejection and societal stigma all contribute to this greater risk. The results from the 2014-2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey are deeply troubling. A group of 9th – 12th graders were asked about their experiences in the last 12 months. Results were broken down by responses from youth who identified as heterosexual and youth who identified as LGB:
Not only do LGB youth have a much higher rate of suicide attempts, the attempts are much more serious: suicide attempts by LGB youth are four to six times more likely to result in injury, poisoning or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse compared to those of their straight pears.
Data about suicide and young people who identify as transgender is even more disturbing. In a national study, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt, and 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.
How You Can HelpThere are resources for LGBT young people who are feeling suicidal or just need someone to talk to. The Trevor Project is entirely devoted to supporting LGBT youth. They have a hot line, a chat line and a text line, as well as a social networking site. Click to access these resources. Every LGBT young person should be told about the support available to them through the Trevor Project.
There are resources, too, for parents of LGBT youth that provide guidance on how best to support a child and advocate for them. Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) has a national website with a wealth of information. There are also PFLAG chapters in Maryland and the D.C. Metro area that offer both parent support groups and youth groups.
Given the anti-LGBT rhetoric coming from Washington, there are indications that LGBT youth feel even more vulnerable. The day after the presidential election, calls to the Trevor Project doubled. In May, the hotline received more calls from LBGT young people than in its entire 19-year history. LGBT youth are more in need of support now than ever.