Around 40% of LGBTQ+ youth in the US have considered attempting suicide within the past 12 months, 50 % of whom are transgender and nonbinary, according to a new survey from The Trevor Project published on Wednesday.
The 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health calls attention to the urgent need for counseling and mental health care for LGBTQ+ youth across the US.
The survey collected data from more than 40,000 LGBTQ+ youth between the ages of 13 and 24 to gain insight into the mental health challenges many queer and trans youth face.
48% of respondents reported engaging in self-harm in the last 12 months, 60% of whom are trans, while 68% of all respondents reported experiencing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
LGBTQ+ youth are already at an increased risk of depression and self-harm and are five times more likely to attempt suicide.
While many queer and trans youth are in immediate need of mental health care, many simply do not have access to it.
The survey found that 46% of LGBTQ+ youth wanted to seek out professional psychological counseling but were unable to receive it.
“For years, suicide has been the second leading cause of death among young people in the US, but we still do not fully grasp the disproportionate impact it has on LGBTQ young people because of insufficient national data collection,” the CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project Amit Paley said in a press release.
“This survey — the largest ever conducted on LGBTQ youth mental health — provides critical insights into the lives of LGBTQ youth and risk factors for suicide.”
Some of these risk factors include conversion therapy, discrimination, housing instability, physical violence, being misgendered, barriers to gender-affirming health care, and not being able to use the correct bathrooms.
10% of LGBTQ+ youth surveyed reported undergoing conversion therapy, while 1 in 3 said they had been physically harmed or threatened because of their sexual orientation or gender identity at some point in their lifetime.
Conversion therapy is a harmful and ineffective practice that aims to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity through electric shock treatments, hypnosis, prayer, and physically painful stimuli. LGBTQ+ youth who undergo conversion therapy are at a significantly increased risk of depression and suicide.
The survey also found that 61% of trans and nonbinary respondents reported having been prevented from using the bathroom that best corresponds with their gender identity.
“We strongly urge public health officials and policymakers to make significant investments in mental health research and support programs that take an intersectional approach to meet the unique needs of diverse communities across the country,” Paley added.
“We know that a one-size-fits-all approach to suicide prevention does not work; the need for robust research, systematic data collection, and comprehensive mental health support has never been greater.”
If you are an LGBTQ+ person who is in crisis or feeling suicidal, please call the TrevorLifeline at 1–866–488–7386.