Since it’s Pride Month, I’ve seen a few references on social media to the higher rates of suicide of LGBTQ youth. I’ve also seen a number of explanations for it, and things that you could do to help, but I wanted to share this quote from the Inside Mental Health podcast, where the host, Gabe Howard, was interviewing Dr. Amy Green, from The Trevor Project, because it really cuts to the chase with data and facts.
When we look at that, the data is striking. One of our data findings found LGBTQ youth who have at least one accepting adult are 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt. When I say risk factors, rejection is one of the biggest ones on the other side for protective factors, it’s acceptance, its affirmation, its support. It’s so crucial during the adolescence and young adult period.
If you go listen to the whole podcast below, you’ll see that the things that increase the risks for suicide among LGBTQ youth are very much socially based. It’s not that LGBTQ youth have some sort of genetic quirk that makes them more likely to deal with mental health issues, it’s because they are so much more likely to be rejected and unable to live their authentic lives. That one thing is something that has an oversized impact on suicide rates for everyone and happens to LGBTQ kids more often. (see also –LGBT+ pupils twice as likely to have been bullied than their straight peers, new research finds)
So, here’s something you can do that will have a huge effect on the likelihood an LGBTQ kid in your life will be lost to suicide, just accept them. Just allow them to be who they are, and live their life accordingly. That’s it.
The fact that, somehow, we haven’t figured that out yet, and continue to lose such a large number of LGBTQ kids, should make us nothing but ashamed as a society. If you care about kids, and care about preventing suicide, and aren’t willing to simply accept LGBTQ kids, you’re doing it wrong. The data is clear. They need someone, anyone, in their lives to accept them.