A preliminary release of data from a new report conducted by The University of Southern California (USC) and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) reveals the crucial need for The Trevor Project’s services. In a survey conducted among youth who contacted The Trevor Project, over half of youth with medium or high-level suicide risk de-escalate their risk level during their interaction with Trevor counselors. However, during the time between The Trevor Project contact and survey completion (average duration: 12 days), practically all (96%) of youth with medium or high-level suicide risk reported a de-escalation.
Strikingly, 26% of youth report they would not have contacted another helpline if Trevor did not exist, meaning that thousands of youth who need support might receive no help at all if Trevor were not available. Nearly all said they would contact The Trevor Project again if they experienced another crisis.
When participants were asked to explain what was helpful about their contact with Trevor, some of the most common themes youth described were the importance of having a non-judgmental space and the validation and acceptance they received from their counselors. On de-escalation, one youth explained, “I was able to calm down and think through my problems individually, and feel safer in my own skin for a while. I stopped and looked at my choices and was able to cross suicide off my list of answers.” Another noted the importance of access to a safe space, saying, “I was able to be fully open with the counselor without worrying about being judged or punished, the way I might be if I shared those things with my parents, friends, or peers at school.”
This report has also given insights into the diversity of the LGBTQ youth served by The Trevor Project. Thirty-six percent of our youth identify as trans*, gender non-conforming, or are unsure of their gender identity. Thirty-nine percent of individuals in the preliminary study who used Trevor’s services are youth of color. A significant proportion of our youth have also experienced homelessness, and are dealing with a variety of stressors in school and at home. The majority of respondents reported feeling like an outcast because they are LGBTQ, and most believe they will have a worse life because they are LGBTQ.
In the exit surveys, having access to a validating and accepting space appears to be vital in creating hope for the future. One youth noted that while speaking with a counselor, “I felt heard and important. I realized not everyone in the world is hateful and narrow minded.” Another said, “It helped me be able to know that other people are understanding of my issues, and that I am not alone even when I feel like I am.” Even in the face of diverse identities and challenges, with the support and care of The Trevor Project, LGBTQ are finding hope, strength, and pride.
While these are preliminary findings, we are pleased to see that the young people spoken to so far have confirmed that The Trevor Project’s life-saving work is effective. The study will be concluded in the Spring of 2017 and The Trevor Project will share our findings as we work to ensure the best LGBTQ suicide prevention program in the country.