LGBTQ Youth and Suicide
Being LGBTQ alone does not put a young person at higher risk for suicide; the discrimination, rejection, fear, and harassment that may come with being LGBTQ in an unsupportive environment are what increase the risk.
We want young LGBTQ people to know they are not alone, and the adults in their lives to know when and how to best support them.
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds in NYC. When young people die by suicide, it can be hard to understand. We are often left wondering what happened or what we as adults could have done to help. We sometimes forget how hard adolescence is, and do not always know whether a young person is experiencing a crisis or simply going through typical changes.
There are many risk factors that contribute to young people thinking about suicide, but some youth are at an increased risk:
- 8.3% of NYC high school students reported having attempted suicide within the past 12 months;
- The rate of attempted suicide was 32% among NYC youth who have been bullied on school grounds in the past 12 months and identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or were not sure of their sexual identity.
- 1 in 3 transgender youth in NYC have seriously thought about taking their lives, and 2 in 5 report having made a suicide attempt in the past 12 months.
- NYC LGB youth, and youth who were not sure of their sexual identity, attempted suicide at significantly higher rates in comparison to heterosexual youth.
- Nationally, LGB youth who experience rejection at home are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
What You Can Do to Help
Suicide is preventable and supportive adults play critical roles in the lives of young people at risk for suicide. Learn the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, along with the specific protective factors that keep young LGBTQ people safe.
Resources for Parents & Caregivers
It is important to tell your child you are concerned and want to help, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some organizations that offer information and guidance around suicide prevention and supporting LGBTQ youth include:
- Youth suicide warning signs
- The Trevor Project: Crisis intervention and suicide prevention support for LGBTQ youth and their loved ones
- TransYouth Family Allies: Guidance and support for transgender youth, their families and communities
- PFLAG NYC: Peer-to-peer support for parents, families and friends of LGBTQ people
- The Jed Foundation: Suicide prevention strategies in college and university environments
- The Center: Local, comprehensive community center for NYC LGBTQ youth and their families; Visit in person or online.
- Not sure what to do? Call 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355) for immediate, free, and confidential support.
Resources for NYC School Personnel
- Take advantage of the free trainings available to NYC elementary, middle, and high school personnel. These include:
- Youth Mental Health First Aid: register here
- Kognito At-Risk training suite: register here
- Making Educators Partners: contact your Field Support Center Student Services Team
- The Jed Foundation: Prevent suicide on college and university campuses
- GLSEN: Create a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ youth and their allies
- Download the #BeThe1To Message Toolkit for 5 steps to help someone in crisis
Prevention Training Opportunities for Professionals
More Mental Health Resources