Jul 28, 2022 - Health

Survey: 1 in 4 LGBTQ youth with high trauma tried suicide in 2021

Percentage of LGBTQ+ youth who reported a suicide attempt in the last year, by trauma symptoms
Data: The Trevor Project; Chart: Axios Visuals 

One in four LGBTQ young people experiencing high levels of trauma said they had attempted suicide in 2021, according to a survey from The Trevor Project released Thursday.

The big picture: Over 300 anti-LGBTQ laws have been introduced this year and at least 25 have passed. Medical experts say the rancor surrounding such policies can weigh heavily on LGBTQ young people's mental health.

  • Medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association, have condemned legislation to restrict gender-affirming medical care.
  • "We must consider the harm that discriminatory policies — and the ugly rhetoric surrounding them — can have when it comes to the potential for traumatizing LGBTQ youth," said Myeshia Price, senior research scientist at The Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth under 25.

Details: 25% of LGBTQ youth with high trauma symptoms — which can include hypervigilance, avoidance and anxiety — reported a suicide attempt last year, compared to 3% of those with no symptoms and 9% of those with "low or moderate" symptoms.

  • LGBTQ young people with high levels of trauma symptoms "had over three times greater odds" of attempting suicide in 2021 compared to those with no symptoms or "low or moderate" symptoms.
  • Symptoms of trauma are relatively common among LGBTQ youth, with more than one in three (37%) between the ages of 13 and 24 reporting symptoms at high levels, and 6 in 10 (60%) reporting "low to moderate" symptoms.
    • Only 4% of youth said they have never experienced any symptoms of trauma.

Zoom in: LGBTQ young people of color had higher rates of having high levels of trauma symptoms compared to their white counterparts (36%), with the highest rate among indigenous (52%), Middle Eastern (44%) and Latinx (37%) youth.

What they're saying: "Experiences of discrimination, harassment, and violence against LGBTQ youth can contribute to trauma symptoms, which can include feeling scared, anxious, or unsafe in the world, often," Price said.

  • "These new data demonstrate that LGBTQ youth who reported high levels of trauma symptoms had more than three times greater odds of attempting suicide in the past year.”
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