Trans and nonbinary youth reveal startling number have "seriously considered" suicide

West Hollywood, California - About half of young trans and nonbinary youth in the US seriously contemplated suicide in the past year, as a record-breaking number of bills restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ people — especially transgender youth — are enacted in state legislatures across the country.

The transgender and gender-nonconforming flag held at a rally for LGBTQ+ rights in New York.
The transgender and gender-nonconforming flag held at a rally for LGBTQ+ rights in New York.  © YANA PASKOVA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

Overall, about four in 10 LGBTQ+ young people, ages 13 to 24, reported they "seriously considered" taking their lives in the past year, with transgender and nonbinary people reporting even higher rates than their peers. Nearly two in 10 actually attempted suicide.

That’s according to the fifth annual survey on the mental health of LGBTQ+ young people living in the US released by The Trevor Project, the nation’s leading suicide and crisis organization for LGBTQ+ youth.

After hearing from nearly 29,000 respondents, researchers found that LGBTQ+ kids and young adults continue to report "significantly higher" rates of suicide risk.

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"Among transgender and nonbinary young people, half seriously considered suicide, and one in five attempted suicide in the past year," Kasey Suffredini, the organization’s VP of advocacy and government affairs, told the Daily News in an email.

Referring to the shocking figures as a "public health crisis," Suffredini added the situation is also "preventable."

"Our government must work from the top down to curb risk factors like violence and discrimination and increase access to essential health care, safe schools and support systems," he said. "Yet far too many lawmakers at the state level are working overtime to push a dangerous political agenda that will jeopardize young lives."

Why are suicide rates on the rise for LGBTQ+ youth?

Protesters have taken to the streets to speak out against a slew of anti-trans legislation exploding in states across the US.
Protesters have taken to the streets to speak out against a slew of anti-trans legislation exploding in states across the US.  © JON CHERRY / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

The sobering statistics are likely associated with the rampant anti-LGBTQ+ bias these kids and young adults encounter in the world around them — including schools, churches, libraries and even their own homes — as well as the explosion of policies restricting their rights and exacerbating stigma.

About half of LGBTQ+ youth reported being verbally assaulted in school because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, and 24% of them said they were "physically threatened or harmed" in the past year for that reason.

Those who reported experiencing any type of anti-LGBTQ+ victimization reported more than twice the rate of suicide attempts, compared to LGBTQ+ youth who didn’t experience it, researchers said.

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Even though an overwhelming majority of respondents (67%) reported having symptoms of anxiety and more than half of them (54%) reported feelings of depression, 56% of LGBTQ+ youth who wanted to get mental health help last year were not able to access it.

While anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and victimization can negatively contribute to the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth, those who had access to an affirming environment — including homes, schools, community events and online spaces — reported lower rates of suicide attempts.

Among the trans and nonbinary youth who attempted suicide in the past year, for example, 21% of them said nobody at home respected their pronouns, compared to 12% of youth whose pronouns were respected by all the people they live with.

That highlights the importance of accepting and affirming environments in the lives of young LGBTQ+ people, as well as the "life-saving potential of support and acceptance," said Ronita Nath, the nonprofit’s VP of research.

"As the existence of LGBTQ young people continues to be unfairly put up for debate, it’s critical to consistently underscore that these challenges are not inherent to LGBTQ identity, but rather stem from stigma, discrimination, and violence," Nath said.

The survey, conducted between September 1 and December 12, 2022, asked respondents about their experiences last year, when a then-record-breaking number of 220 anti-LGBTQ bills had been debated in state legislatures across the nation.

This year, Republican lawmakers have introduced more than 520 pieces of legislation targeting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community — with nearly half of them specifically restricting the rights of trans and nonbinary people, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

If you or someone you know need help, please contact the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Hotline by calling or texting 988 for free and confidential support. You can also text "HOME" to 741741 anytime for the Crisis Text Line and access to live, trained crisis counselors.

Cover photo: Collage: YANA PASKOVA & JON CHERRY / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

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