LGBT People and Suicide

 
"Among the most pressing questions for future research is whether LGBT people are over-represented among suicide deaths, and if so, why." - Ann Haas, Ph.D., Suicide Researcher
Introduction
The reality is we don't know that much about LGBT people and suicide risk. Data collection for suicide needs to improve overall, and especially so for LGBT people. The U.S. Standard Certificate of Death—the basis for mortality statistics—does not include sexual orientation or gender identity, and this data is critical to determine the extent of suicide's impact on this population, and to measure the effectiveness of prevention programs. Our advocates are making progress by rallying their representatives to expand the National Violent Death Reporting System to more states.
What we know

Risk

  • LGB youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.
  • Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt.
  • LGBT people have significantly higher rates of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, and substance use disorder than heterosexual people.
  • LGBT people experience stressors like social stigma, prejudice, and individual and institutional discrimination.

Prevention

LGBT people have a higher risk for suicidal ideation and attempts than heterosexual people, but there are ways to lower that risk.

  • High Schools can institute anti-homophobia policies and promote student groups for LGBT people like gay-straight alliances, which can help to reduce suicide attempts in the school's LGBT population.
  • Family connectedness, acceptance, and support have been shown to protect LGBT adolescents from negative mental health outcomes.
  • Connection to caring adults outside the family, school safety, and positive sexual identity are also protective factors to help lower suicide risk.
How we prevent suicide in LGBT populations

Education

AFSP Chapters host LGBT Awareness events and conferences to educate clinicians, researchers, and community leaders on LGBT suicide prevention. We partnered with other mental health and LGBTQ organizations to create a manual for schools on how to reduce suicide. The Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention shows how schools can support their LGBTQ populations and minimize suicide risk. We partnered with organizations to educate the media on responsible reporting of suicide in LGBT communities, producing a guide, Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations, to stop suicide contagion instigated by sensationalized accounts of LGBT suicide. AFSP spearheaded the effort to have LGBT populations identified among other at-risk populations in the 2012 revision of the U.S. National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

Research

We fund research that studies suicide in LGBT populations. An AFSP grant allowed suicide researcher Gary Diamond, Ph.D. to adapt Attachment-Based Family Therapy to meet the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents and their families. An AFSP-funded study by Brian Mustanski, Ph.D. investigated Suicide Attempts in LGBT Teens and found rates to be significantly higher than heterosexual populations. Ann P. Haas and Philip L. Rodgers found a link between experiences of discrimination and suicide attempts among Transgender people. Learn more about AFSP research.

Advocacy

AFSP advocates for legislation that:

  • Funds the collection of mortality statistics for LGBT people
  • Supports safe schools and anti-bullying efforts
  • Improves access to mental health services for LGBT people
How you can fight suicide in the LGBT community

Advocate

Become an advocate to support better data collection and other smart suicide prevention policy. All you need is an email address.

Join a Chapter

There are many opportunities to fight suicide in your community. Find a chapter near you and learn how you can support suicide prevention for LGBT people.

Donate

Your donations support research, advocacy, and education programs that prevent suicide in LGBT people.


Support our friends

The Trevor Project
Crisis intervention and suicide prevention services LGBTQ youth ages 13-24.
thetrevorproject.org | Trevor Lifeline: 866-4-U-TREVOR

Family Acceptance Project
Encourages family support through research, intervention, education and policy initiatives.
familyproject.sfsu.edu

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Promotes the health and well-being of LGBT family and friends.
pflag.org | (202) 467-8180

Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
Resources for teachers and students to ensure safe schools for all students.
glsen.org | (212) 727-0135