Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth ages 15–24, and LGBTQ youth are more likely than their peers to attempt suicide.
As the Institute of Medicine has noted, LGBT youth are typically well adjusted and mentally healthy. However, they experience higher rates of mental health challenges and increased health complications arising from these challenges compared to their heterosexual peers. Research on transgender youth outcomes as separate from lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth outcomes is more limited, though growing. Some recent nonrandom surveys of self-identified transgender people indicate that up to one-third reported attempting suicide at least once, with higher rates for youth and young adults than for older adults. Moreover, suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 24, and LGBT youth are more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. This does not mean, however, that LGBT identity itself is the cause of these challenges. Rather, these higher rates may be due to bias, discrimination, family rejection, and other stressors associated with how they are treated because of their sexual identity or gender identity/expression.These challenges, which researchers refer to as “microaggresions,” can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges, as well as to suicide and self-harming behavior.
Strategies to improve mental health and prevent self-harming behavior and suicide include
- providing safe and supportive environments, particularly through affirming relationships with family and peers;
- enacting legislation to protect the safety of LGBT youth;
- re-evaluating institutional practices that undermine positive child and youth development; and
- building community awareness and capacity to understand and address stressors that LGBT youth may experience.
Links to resource:
- Check out the entire resource library on Youth.Gov.
- Learn more about Youth.Gov.
- Learn more about the Institute of Medicine.
- Read the Guide for Understanding, Supporting, and Affirming LGBTQI2-S Children, Youth, and Families, this guide, written by members of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Workgroup to Address the Needs of Children and Youth Who Are LGBTQI2-S and Their Families.
- Learn more about the Healthy People 2020 Topics & Objectives: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health,the Healthy People 2020 website has a specific focus to improve the health, safety, and well-being of LGBT individuals.
Population of focus: LGBTQ, and youth.