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New Data Further Highlights Suicide Risk Disparity Among Queer Youth

BY: Kinzi Sparks
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth continue to experience significantly more violence victimization and suicide risk than heterosexual youth.

Statement from Dr. Amy E. Green (she/her pronouns), Director of Research at The Trevor Project:

“The new YRBS data is a sobering reminder that we have a lot of work to do to better support LGBTQ youth across this country. But there’s also still so much we do not know, which makes our work to provide support and prevent suicide that much harder.

“For one, this data does not grasp our current reality, as all of it was collected before the onset of COVID-19. Back in April, The Trevor Project released a white paper outlining the way in which LGBTQ youth may be particularly vulnerable to the negative mental health impacts associated with COVID-19. A June 2020 study, the first to specifically examine the experiences of LGBTQ youth during the pandemic, confirmed what we had posited: many LGBTQ youth no longer have access to their usual support systems and some are now isolated in unaccepting home environments. These unique challenges have the potential to exacerbate the existing mental health problems made apparent by the YRBS data.

“Alarmingly, CDC data released last week found that over a quarter of youth ages 18–24 seriously considered suicide in June, but that data was not segmented by sexual orientation or gender identity. We need increased investment in national data collection that is inclusive of both sexual orientation and gender identity to understand the breadth of LGBTQ youth mental health issues and risk factors for suicide and better inform our response strategies.

“However, we do know that positive social interactions remain vital for suicide prevention. According to The Trevor Project’s 2020 national survey, LGBTQ youth who reported high levels of social support from family and friends or access to at least one LGBTQ affirming space were significantly less likely to attempt suicide. That’s why it is imperative for elected officials, schools, and all youth-serving institutions and organizations to specifically consider the unique needs of LGBTQ youth and to develop innovative strategies to help maintain positive connections as long as the pandemic persists.”

For more information on the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey’s findings on LGB youth.

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