Defining yourself as you were intended outside of the expectations of others must be rather difficult. Identifying yourself publicly comes with considerable consequences. Such consequences are not your responsibility, but rather the responsibilities of your environment. Your environment may be receptive or negative. Regardless, you have the right and privilege to be who you are. Although there may be negative reactions, don’t let them influence who you are. As difficult as this experience may be, know there are resources and people who care about you.
A Message to Parents and Professionals
Though Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (LGBTQ) youth have a higher rate of suicide, it does not mean that if a youth is identified as LGBTQ, they are at higher risk. By no means is this population stereotyped as more prone to suicide, rather there are increased risk factors and lowered protective factors in such a population, not for who these youth are, but more so as others inappropriately perceive them. Regardless of how these youth identify themselves as individuals, others influence and define how they are perceived. Specifically, LGBTQ youth can come out to their community and parents with received acceptance and not experience any risk. However, if a youth has identified themselves and is not accepted, they are generally someone who is subjected to ridicule, isolation, withdrawal and depression as a result of sexual identification. In such instances, there are increased risks and lowered protective factors in that there is a lack of connectivity.
What You May Not Know
- LGBTQ youth high school students were 3.4 times more likely to have attempted suicide in the last year than their cisgender, heterosexual peers.
- LGBTQ youth who experienced severe family rejection were more than 8 times more likely to report having attempted suicide compared with peers from families with little or no rejection.
- Research indicates that 30 percent of LGB youth versus 13 percent of heterosexual youth (mean age of about 18) had attempted suicide at some point.
- A study found that 28.1 percent of gay or bisexual males in grades 7 through 12 had attempted suicide at least once during their lives, while only 4.2 percent of heterosexual males in those grades had attempted suicide. The corresponding percentages for females were 20.5 percent for lesbian or bisexual females and 14.5 percent for heterosexual females.
- Family and parental support are important protective factors against adolescent suicide for LGB youth.
- In a study of high school students, LGB youth were almost five times as likely as non-LGB youth to have missed school because of fears about their safety and more than four times as likely to have been threatened with a weapon on school property. Victimization – violence, bullying and verbal harassment- is a risk factor for suicide attempts and suicidal ideation.
- CDC – LGB youth are at an increased risk for suicidal ideations, behaviors, attempts and completions.
- CDC – LGB youth experience increased levels of substance use, bullying, negative school climate, feelings of depression and feelings of unsafety within their school/community.
- SPRC.org – study from the Massachusets Dept. of Ed., 2006 YRBS indicates that LGB high school students are more than 4x as likely to attempt suicide as their non-LGB peers.
- AAS – Eisenber and Resnick (2006) report that LGB youth are more than 2x as likely to complete suicide as their straight peers; LGBT youth have more severe risk factors thantheir straight peers
- AAS – D’Angelli (2002) reports high rates of victimization among LGB youth; Ryan et al. (2009) find family acceptance is important for LGB youth and that they experience severe family rejection and are eight times more likely to report attempting suicide than their non-LGB youth with the same experiences.