May 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Almost half of LGBTQ youth considered suicide in past year, survey finds

Data: The Trevor Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

Almost half of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, according to survey results published Wednesday by The Trevor Project, an organization that runs crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ people under 25.

The big picture: In the last year, the U.S. has seen a record number of anti-trans bills in state legislatures — many specifically focused on trans youth. With a wave of recent legislation seeking to restrict discussions of sexuality and gender in schools, experts have increasingly warned about a rash of new mental health crises.

By the numbers: 45% of respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including 53% of trans and nonbinary youth.

  • A majority of LGBTQ youth also reported recent symptoms of anxiety (73%) and depression (58%), yet 60% of youth who wanted mental health care were not able to get it.
  • LGBTQ youth who live in a community that is accepting of LGBTQ people reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide than those who do not.

93% of trans and nonbinary youth said that they have worried about trans people being denied access to gender-affirming medical care due to state or local laws.

  • Fewer than 1 in 3 trans and nonbinary youth said their home is a gender-affirming space.

Respondents said the top four barriers to care were fears around discussing mental health, concerns with parental permission, fears of not being taken seriously and lack of affordability.

  • LGBTQ youth of color also reported significantly higher rates of concern that providers would not understand their culture compared to white youth.

Worth noting: 66% of LGBTQ young people — and 85% of trans and nonbinary youth — said in a January poll that their mental health had been negatively affected by recent debates about state laws targeting trans people.

What they're saying: "The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and relentless political attacks during this time period cannot be understated," Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, said in a statement.

  • Young LGBTQ people are "a marginalized group consistently found to be at significantly increased risk for suicide because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society."
  • Public health officials and youth-serving organizations must "tailor services to meet LGBTQ youth's unique needs," added Myeshia Price, senior research scientist for The Trevor Project.
  • "Only then will we be able to better understand and support the young people who need us most," they said.

Methodology: This quantitative cross-sectional survey was conducted using an online platform between Sept. 20 and Dec. 31, 2021. A sample of 33,993 LGBTQ youth ages 13–24 who resided in the United States were recruited via targeted ads on social media.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free and confidential support for anyone in distress, in addition to prevention and crisis resources. Also available for online chat.

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