A newly released survey finds 40% of LGBTQ youth “seriously considered” suicide this year — statistics that some experts say shows that society is failing to create a safer environment for young people in that community.
The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization, polled 40,000 members of the LGBTQ community between the ages of 13 and 24, the largest survey of its kind. The 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that young people in that age group are grappling with many mental issues that may not be getting the attention they need.
LGBTQ Youth Statistics
The results of the study not only show that many young people in the LGBTQ community considered suicide, but it also highlights other problems they are facing. The survey revealed:
- 48% of LGBTQ youth reported engaging in self-harm in the past twelve months
- 68% reported a generalized anxiety disorder
- 55% reported symptoms of major depressive disorder
About half of those who responded also said that they wanted, but could not get, mental health care in the past year citing affordability as the largest barrier.
Dr. Jack Turbin, a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine tells Today that the findings, “highlight that our society has a long way to go to create a safer and more affirming environment for LGBTQ youth.”
The Effects of Rejection
The results of The Trevor Project’s survey also found that LGBTQ youth who reported facing greater rejection and discrimination also have higher rates of attempted suicide.
Of those surveyed, 15% said they actually attempted suicide over the past year. According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents in the United States.
Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having their pronouns respected by most of the people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who were not respected. Just under 20% of transgender and nonbinary youth said their gender identity is respected by “all or most” people in their lives.
Of those surveyed, 10% of LGBTQ youth reported undergoing conversion therapy, with 78% reporting that it happened when they were under 18.
“We can’t underestimate the broad adverse health effects caused by societal discrimination against LGBTQ people, and youth in particular,” Turbin tells Today. “Things like rejection from family and conversion therapy lead to a range of adverse mental health problems by telling these young people that something they can’t change about themselves makes them bad or wrong.”
The survey did find that some LGBTQ youth are getting the support they need. The majority — 86% — said that they have at least one person they can count on for support. The effects of that support can be seen in the number who attempted suicide, with 12% of those who have support reporting that they attempted suicide compared to 20% of those without any support.
As all of this data is being released and interpreted, Dr. Amy Green, director of research at The Trevor Project, tells Forbes, “The data serve as a clarion call for us to prioritize affirming systems of support for LGBTQ youth that will benefit society for years to come.”
You can find all of the results of The Trevor Project’s 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health here.