By Tim Fitzsimons
Two in 5 #LGBTQ #youth in the #UnitedStates have “seriously considered” #suicide in the past year, a sobering survey released Wednesday said, showing what one expert called the “devastating #mentalhealth consequences” of society’s failure to create a safer and more affirming environment for America’s #queer #youth.
The 2020 National Survey on #LGBTQ #Youth #MentalHealth by The Trevor Project, an #LGBTQ #youth crisis intervention and #suicideprevention organization, paints a stark picture of pervasive #mentaldistress among America’s #lesbian, #gay, #bisexual, #transgender and #queer #youth, with a majority reporting symptoms consistent with generalized #anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
The survey, the largest of its kind, polled 40,000 #LGBTQ people between ages 13 and 24 and found that 68 percent of the respondents reported symptoms of generalized #anxiety disorder, 55 percent reported symptoms of major depressive disorder and 48 percent reported engaging in self-harm. In addition, 40 percent say they have “seriously considered” attempting #suicide in the past year.
In a clinical #mentalhealth setting, survey responses like these would lead to follow-up screenings, according to Amy Green, the study lead and director of research at The Trevor Project.
“Our physicians, pediatricians and #mentalhealthproviders need to be screening #youth,” she said, urging professionals to take a closer look at sexuality and gender issues in #youth #mentalhealth settings.
Dr. Jack Turban, a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he researches the #mentalhealth of #transgender #youth, said the findings “highlight that our society has a long way to go to create a safer and more affirming environment for #LGBTQ #youth.”
“We once again see the devastating #mentalhealth consequences of our failures,” he said in an email.
As the survey’s own data show, many #LGBTQ youth are not getting screened for the #mentalhealthissues they report. About half of the respondents say they want but could not get #mentalhealthcare in the past year, with affordability the “strongest barrier to receiving #mentalhealthcare.”
The risks associated with unmet #mentalhealthcare needs are stark. Overall, #suicide is the second leading cause of death for #American adolescents, according to the #CentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention, and #LGBTQ youth are at a higher risk of #suicide than straight and cisgender youth. Fifteen percent of the respondents attempted #suicide in the past year, the survey found.
“If we take a step back and look at minority #stress model, that says that experiences of rejection, discrimination and victimization are the primary causal mechanisms that cause that ideation,” Green said, adding that it’s not who they are, “but how they are treated.”
In the survey, #LGBTQ youth who reported facing greater rejection, violence and discrimination also reported higher rates of #suicide attempts.
For #transgender and nonbinary youth, having their identity and pronouns respected by “all or most” people was associated with a greatly reduced risk of a #suicide attempt.
Even so, respect is still rare: Just 20 percent of #trans and nonbinary youth said their gender identity is respected by “all or most” people in their lives.
Turban said rejection “takes an insidious toll and plants the seed for #mentalhealthproblems.”
“We can’t underestimate the broad adverse health effects caused by societal discrimination against #LGBTQ people, and youth in particular,” he said. “Things like rejection from family and conversion therapy lead to a range of adverse #mentalhealthproblems by telling these young people that something they can’t change about themselves makes them ‘bad’ or ‘wrong.’”
Green said understanding that rejection can lead to worse #mentalhealth outcomes can also illuminate a path forward
While many #LGBTQ youth face discrimination, the vast majority (86 percent) reported having a rock — at least one person who strongly supports them as an #LGBTQ person — and those who have a rock also report lower rates of #suicide attempts overall.
“The simple act of acceptance and letting kids express their identity can be incredibly powerful,” Green said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
If you are an #LGBTQ young person in crisis, feeling suicidal or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the TrevorLifeline now at 1-866-488-7386.