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New survey shows upward trend in suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ youth

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A new survey from The Trevor Project has found that rates of LGBTQ youth contemplating suicide have risen to 45% over the past three years.

The data comes from the project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, , representing the experiences of nearly 34,000 LGBTQ youth (ages 13-24) across the United States.

These data found that 45% of respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth (53%) and 1 in 3 cisgender youth (33%). A large majority of LGBTQ youth also reported recent symptoms of anxiety (73%) and depression (58%), yet 60% of youth who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it. The top four barriers to care reported by youth were fears around discussing mental health, concerns with parental permission, fears of not being taken seriously, and lack of affordability.

“The Trevor Project’s research demonstrates that suicidal thoughts have trended upward among LGBTQ young people over the last three years, making our life-saving work all the more important,” said Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and relentless political attacks during this time period cannot be understated,”

LGBTQ youth who held more marginalized identities reported greater suicide risk compared to their peers. 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth (19%) attempted suicide in the past year compared to nearly 1 in 10 cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and questioning youth (9%). The rate of attempting suicide among LGBTQ youth of color — 21% of Native/Indigenous youth, 20% of Middle Eastern/Northern African youth, 19% of Black youth, 17% of multiracial youth, 16% of Latinx youth, and 12% of Asian/Pacific Islander youth — was higher for almost all groups than that of white LGBTQ youth (12%). Further, youth who identify as pansexual attempted suicide at a significantly higher rate than lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer youth.

Additional findings include:

  • 37% of LGBTQ youth found their home to be LGBTQ-affirming and 55% found their school to be affirming.
  • Fewer than 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming and a little more than half (51%) found their school to be affirming.
  • Across the board, youth who had access to affirming homes and schools reported much lower rates of attempting suicide in the past year.
  • Transgender and nonbinary youth, who already report the highest rates of anxiety and depression symptoms, are worried about anti-transgender legislation.
  • Among transgender and nonbinary youth, 93% have worried about trans people being denied access to gender-affirming medical care, 91% have worried about trans people being denied access to the bathroom, and 83% have worried about trans people being denied the ability to play sports due to state or local laws.
  • Among LGBTQ youth, more than three-quarters of transgender and nonbinary youth (78%) reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety compared to nearly two-thirds of cisgender youth (65%).
  • Among LGBTQ youth, nearly two-thirds of transgender and nonbinary youth (65%) reported experiencing symptoms of depression compared to nearly half of cisgender youth (47%).
  • The pandemic continued to negatively impact LGBTQ youth’s mental health — and LGBTQ youth of color reported higher rates of having a close family member or friend who died due to COVID-19 compared to their white LGBTQ peers.
  • LGBTQ youth who felt high social support from their family reported attempting suicide at less than half the rate of those who felt low or moderate social support.

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