US: Hate Fuelling Mental Health Crisis Among LGBTQ+ Young People


Among LGBTQ+ young people, transgender and nonbinary individuals reported the highest rate of serious suicidal thoughts (Photo: Oriel Frankie Ashcroft)

A new report has found that almost 40% of LGBTQ+ young people in the US had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, largely in response to bullying and unsafe and stigmatising environments.

The 2024 US National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ+ Young People, the sixth edition of the study, reflects the experiences of more than 18,000 LGBTQ+ young people ages 13 to 24 across the United States.

Released by the LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention organisation, The Trevor Project, the survey results underscore that LGBTQ+ young people continue to report high rates of mental health challenges, suicide risk, and associated experiences of anti-LGBTQ+ victimisation such as bullying, discrimination, threats of physical violence, and conversion therapy.

“Once again, this year’s survey shows that considering or attempting suicide is not uncommon among LGBTQ+ young people,” commented Dr Ronita Nath, Vice President of Research at The Trevor Project. 

“However, many of the contributing risk factors for suicide are preventable, and often rooted in victimising behaviors of others. The results of this survey clearly identify a need for adults and allies to create more affirming environments for LGBTQ+ young people, and better support them in being their true selves,” said Nath.

Overall, 39% of LGBTQ+ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year — including 46% of transgender and nonbinary young people, and more than one in ten (12%) of all LGBTQ+ youth attempted suicide in the past year.

LGBTQ+ Victimisation Strongly Associated with Suicide Risk

LGBTQ+ youth of colour reported higher rates than their White peers. Yet despite these mental health challenges, 50% of LGBTQ+ young people who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it.

As shown in in previous surveys, anti-LGBTQ+ victimisation was strongly associated with suicide risk – adding to the long-established reality that LGBTQ+ young people are not inherently prone to suicide risk, but rather, placed at a higher risk because of how they are mistreated and stigmatised by others.

90% of LGBTQ+ young people said their well-being was negatively impacted due to recent politics, and nearly half (45%) of transgender and nonbinary young people reported that they or their family have considered moving to a different state because of LGBTQ-related politics and laws.

Nearly half (49%) of LGBTQ+ young people ages 13-17 experienced bullying in the past year, and those who did reported significantly higher rates of attempting suicide in the past year.

“Much of our efforts to address the public health crisis of suicide among LGBTQ+ young people are made that much harder by the ongoing wave of anti-LGBTQ+ policies pushed by extremist lawmakers across the country,” said Janson Wu, Senior Director of State Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project.

Affirming Environments Linked to Healthier LGBTQ+ Youth

Similar to previous surveys from The Trevor Project, these data underscore that access to affirming environments was associated with lower odds of suicide risk. LGBTQ+ young people who reported living in very accepting communities attempted suicide at less than half the rate of those who reported living in very unaccepting communities.

Further, transgender and nonbinary young people who had access to gender-affirming clothing, gender-neutral bathrooms at school, and had their pronouns respected by the people they live with had lower rates of attempting suicide compared to those who did not.

“With such striking numbers and families literally wanting to uproot their homes to seek safety, lawmakers must seriously reconsider the real and damaging impact that their anti-LGBTQ+ policies and rhetoric create. No ‘political victory’ should be worth risking the lives of young people,” said Lu.

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