Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Institute of Mental Health goes on to cite it as the second leading cause for an even bigger age range, 10-34, with the numbers steadily rising. Schools are now implementing mandatory training and awareness programs in order to stop this epidemic. Among them, The Trevor Project Model School Policy, which specifically aims to help LGBTQ+ youth.
Why LGBTQ+ Youth?
Numerous studies from the CDC note that LGBTQ+ students are the most at-risk for suicide. They are three times as likely to contemplate suicide as their straight counterparts and five times as likely to attempt it. Forty percent of transgendered adults have attempted suicide and 92% of those attempts were before the age of 25.
The Trevor Project, an organization that specializes in suicide education, awareness, and prevention in LGBTQ+ youth, has teamed up with the biggest organizations in mental health and suicide awareness to develop the “Model School Policy.”
This free resource combines information from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American School Counselor Association, and the National Association of School Psychologists and is accessible by anyone on all of their websites.
The program gives in-depth information on the trans and gender non-conforming experience and helps teachers and counselors understand LGBTQ+ youth and what they may be going through. The policy offers training resources and hypothetical scenarios and what to do in those situations. It covers things like self-harm as well as risk assessment and postvention or what to do if it does happen to a student.
Many states require some kind of suicide prevention and risk assessment training for educators, but most of them aren’t required to do it annually and some are only required to do it once. With rising suicide numbers and an increasing amount of young people coming out as LGBTQ+, something had to be done to attack this problem specifically and this policy is the answer to that problem.
The Model School Policy was introduced in the summer of 2018. A year later, high schools all over the country have adopted the policy and are seeing positive results. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community have expressed their approval of the program saying it could’ve really benefitted them while they were in school.
The Trevor Project’s 2019 national survey reported that 39% of LGBTQ+ youth have considered suicide in the last year. This policy offers schools, parents, and even students the potentially life-saving resources they need to be an ally and advocate of mental health awareness and suicide prevention in LGBTQ+ youth.
*If you or anyone you know is at risk of suicide or self-harm, please call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741. For LGBTQ+ youth and their parents and educators, please contact The Trevor Project’s crisis hotline at 866-488-7386 or text START to 678678. Online resources are available at www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help.