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Report: Asian American and Pacific Islander LGBTQ Youth Face Unique Mental Health Challenges, Increased Racial & Ethnic Discrimination

BY: Trevor News
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More than half of AAPI LGBTQ youth experienced discrimination based on their race/ethnicity in the past year — and those who did reported higher rates of attempting suicide in the past year

April 19, 2022 — A new report released today by The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and mental health organization for LGBTQ young people, explores the mental health and well-being of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) LGBTQ youth. This report is one of the first to analyze the mental health outcomes among youth who are both AAPI and LGBTQ — and provides findings specific to six major AAPI origin groups: Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese LGBTQ youth.

Key findings include:

  • 40% of AAPI LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, including 49% of Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian youth, 47% of Korean youth, 41% of Filipino youth, 39% of Indian youth, 31% of Vietnamese youth, and 29% of Chinese youth.
  • 16% of AAPI LGBTQ youth attempted suicide in the past year, including 20% of Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian youth, 18% of Korean youth, 14% of Vietnamese youth, 13% of Filipino youth, 9% of Chinese youth, and 8% of Indian youth.
  • 41% of AAPI LGBTQ youth were not out to at least one parent about their sexual orientation — compared to 29% of the overall sample of LGBTQ youth — including 60% of Vietnamese youth, 55% of Indian youth, 49% of Chinese youth, 43% of Filipino youth, 38% of Korean youth, and 34% of Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian youth.
  • AAPI transgender and nonbinary youth reported significantly higher rates of suicide risk compared to cisgender AAPI LGBQ youth, half of whom seriously considering suicide and more than 1 in 5 reporting a suicide attempt in the past year.
  • Mental health outcomes for AAPI LGBTQ youth were unique across ethnic identities: Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian LGBTQ youth were more out to others about their sexual orientation and reported higher rates of discrimination and physical harm based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and poorer mental health indicators compared to the other AAPI ethnicities analyzed in the report.

“These findings shine a light on the unique mental health outcomes and suicide risk of AAPI LGBTQ youth — a demographic that has largely been overlooked by the research world,” said Myeshia Price (she/her or they/them pronouns), Senior Research Scientist at The Trevor Project. “This research points to the unmistakable need to invest in mental health resources and suicide prevention efforts for AAPI LGBTQ youth that are culturally salient, reflective of their diverse identities, and equip parents, other family members, and communities to better support them.”

These data underscore the unique forms of victimization faced by AAPI LGBTQ youth that may place them at increased risk for suicide. This report finds that more than half of AAPI LGBTQ youth (54%) reported discrimination based on their race/ethnicity in the past year and 1 in 10 reported discrimination based on their immigration status (10%) — these rates were nearly double that of the overall sample of LGBTQ youth. In both cases, AAPI LGBTQ youth who experienced race-based discrimination (18% vs. 12%) or immigration-based discrimination (26% vs. 14%) reported significantly higher rates of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not.

These data also illustrate protective factors unique to AAPI LGBTQ youth, which may play an important role in uplifting their wellbeing and preventing suicide. Strong connectivity to one’s cultural background was found to be one such protective factor. AAPI LGBTQ youth who said their race/ethnicity was a very important part of who they are reported nearly half the rate of attempting suicide in the past year (12%) compared to those who said it was not important to them at all (23%). Additionally, AAPI LGBTQ youth who have supportive family and friends and access to LGBTQ-affirming spaces reported lower rates of attempting suicide.

This report was created using data from a national sample of nearly 3,600 AAPI LGBTQ youth ages 13–24 who participated in The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. The full report can be found here.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678. 

Methodology

The content and methodology for The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health were approved by an independent Institutional Review Board (IRB). This quantitative cross-sectional survey was conducted using an online platform between Oct. 12, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020 among 34,759 LGBTQ youth respondents between the ages of 13–24 residing in the United States, including 3,594 (10%) LGBTQ youth who either identified as exclusively Asian/Asian American, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, or who identified as multiracial Asian/Asian American or Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, henceforth just referred to as “AAPI.” Each analysis was run separately for AAPI youth who identified as exclusively AAPI compared to those who were multiracial AAPI and another race/ethnicity. Findings specific to Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese LGBTQ youth are shared when sample sizes permit. Visit here for additional information on methodology.

About The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and mental health organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifelineTrevorText, and TrevorChat, as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. 

Media Inquiries:

Nicholas Turton
[email protected]

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