Suicide Prevention Month: How to Find and Offer Support to LGBTQ Teens
September 18, 2020
It’s National Suicide Prevention Month and that got me thinking about how the world can feel brutal sometimes: mean comments, rumors, judgment. Research unfortunately has found that LGBTQ youth are at higher risk for suicide.
For their 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, the Trevor Project—an organization focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth—surveyed over 40,000 U.S. LGBTQ people ages 13 to 24. Among their key findings: “Forty percent of LGBTQ respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth having seriously considered suicide.” Further, LGB youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual teens, according to the 2016 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance from the Centers for Disease Control.
These are disheartening and discouraging statistics. But LGBTQ youth are subject to a lot of discrimination and abuse. “Six out of 10 LGBTQ youth said that someone attempted to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity,” according to the Trevor Project survey mentioned above. And “One in three LGBTQ youth report that they have been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.”
But there are things you can do, whether you’re looking for support or wanting to provide it to others. For example, the Trevor Project’s survey found that transgender and nonbinary young people who reported having their pronouns respected or access to gender gender-affirming clothing had lower rates of attempted suicide. And the great news is that 86 percent of LGBTQ young people who took the survey reported high levels of support from at least one person. Let’s make that 100 percent!
Offer Your Support
1. Listen and care. Even the smallest amount of love and support can go a long way. A simple “How are you doing?” can really help with feelings of isolation and show that you care. Reach out.
2. Use your voice on social media. By sharing LGBTQ-friendly posts, you are supporting and advocating for those who are LGBTQ. This not only increases awareness but also may catch the eyes of many who need to know they have allies.
3. Get help. If you know someone who is struggling and may be contemplating suicide, let them know that they are not alone and they have many resources, such as the ones listed below.
As The Trevor Project says on their website, “One supportive person can prevent suicide.” Sometimes, that’s all it takes to help someone.
• Call the TrevorLifeline at 1-866-488-7386, where trained counselors are available 24/7. It’s a safe and judgment-free place to talk about what is on your mind.
• TrevorText is confidential and will also connect you with a trained Trevor counselor 24/7. Text START to 678-678.