*Note: This article was originally published on Pride Pocket prior to merging with MyUmbrella*
America is what a lot of people would consider a progressive country, but does it really have the best interests for LGBTQ+ youth? A good portion of LGBTQ+ youth will face some kind of mental disorder: most commonly depression, which can lead to self-harming and even suicide. Is there a reason why LGBTQ+ youth are so depressed and is there anything parents and schools can do to help them?
According to the Trevor Project1, suicide for youth is, “the 2nd leading cause of death,” and “1 out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9-12) seriously considered suicide in the past year.” These statistics alone are a problem that schools and society need to start taking more seriously.
The statistics only increase when you’re LGBTQ+. The Trevor Project1 continues by stating that LGBTQ+ youth, are “4 times as likely to commit suicide” than their heterosexual classmates.
It doesn’t take a Statistics Professor to realize how easy it is for LGB+ teenagers or young adults to fall into depression. If you noticed the absence of the “T” in LGBTQ+, it’s not because Transgender people experience less depression or have lower suicide rates. In fact, the Trevor Project1 states that “40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt,” and most of these attempts took place when the adult was younger than 25.
Now, infuse the idea that a trans person is also a minority, and the statistics become extremely alarming. The rates multiply according to a Williams Institute Study2 which reported that “Latino and Native American/Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ youth had greater odds of attempting suicide”.
Is there something that society can do to help LGBTQ+ youth and lower the rates for suicide? Why are they statistically more likely to struggle with depression in the first place? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)3, LBGTQ+ youth need “a positive school climate” to lower suicide rates, especially for younger members of the community.
Creating safe spaces, like “student-led and student-organized school clubs that promote a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment,” is another measure that the CDC3 recommends in order to help lower the suicide rates. However, this can be nearly impossible for many schools that have socially conservative policies, such as religious private schools and schools in small towns with low populations of LGBTQ+ members.
There’s also the No Promo No Homo4 law which restricts schools from talking about the LGBTQ+ community “in a positive light – if at all,” along with requiring some teachers to show LGBTQ+ people in a “negative or inaccurate way.” This makes school not only an unsafe environment for LGBTQ+ youth, but it may also contribute to high rates of youth struggling with depression.
Parental support is another factor that can make or break LGBTQ+ youths’ mental health. If a child has an accepting parent, they are less likely to be depressed. However, a study reported that youth with non-accepting parents are “8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide” than their heterosexual peers. This makes LGBTQ+ acceptance and education essential for LGBTQ+ youths’ positive mental health and safety, whether at home or at school.
LGBTQ+ youth suicide rates are a big problem for our society, but if we work to better our schools and to educate each other, hopefully, in the future, these rates will significantly diminish.
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