Suicide Prevention Month: A summary of data on LGBT suicide

Research shows that anti-LGBT discrimination and victimization contribute to an increase in the risk of suicidality and that LGBT people are at disproportionate risk of suicidal ideation, planning, and attempts. In recognition of Suicide Prevention Month, the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law is providing a summary of current data on suicidality among LGBT people. Scholars are available for comment.

” Research has shown a high prevalence of suicidal behavior among LGB people.

o A 2016 review of research found that 17% of LGB adults had attempted suicide during their lifetime, compared with 2.4% of the US general population.

” A recent report from the Generations Study, a nationally representative study of cisgender LGB people, found that LGBQ people who experienced conversion therapy were at higher risk for suicide behavior compared with their peers who didn’t undergo the practice.

o LGBQ people were 92% more likely to think about suicide, 75% more likely to plan suicide, and 88% more likely to actually attempt suicide that resulted in no or minor injury.

” The 2015 US Transgender Survey (USTS), conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, found that the prevalence of suicide thoughts and attempts among transgender adults is significantly higher than that of the US general population.

o 82% of respondents reported ever seriously thinking about suicide in their lifetimes, while 48% had done so in the past year.

o 40% reported attempting suicide at some point in their lifetimes, and 7% had attempted it in the past year.

” A 2019 analysis of the USTS found that respondents who faced discrimination, rejection, and violence were more likely to report suicide thoughts and attempts.

o Over half (51%) of respondents who had experienced four instances of anti-transgender discrimination and violence – losing a job, eviction, homelessness, and physical attack -in the past year reported attempting suicide that year. Nearly all (98%) had seriously thought about suicide.

o Respondents who were rejected by their family of origin were twice as likely to report past-year suicide attempts compared to those who had not experienced such rejection (11% compared to 5%).

o Over 30% of those who were physically attacked in a place of public accommodation reported attempting suicide in the past year, compared to 7% of respondents who had not been similarly attacked.

” Some factors were associated with lower risk of suicide thoughts and attempts for transgender people.

o Respondents with supportive families reported lower prevalence of past-year and lifetime suicide thoughts and attempts.

o Respondents who wanted and subsequently received gender-affirming surgical care were less likely to report suicide attempts in the past year compared to those who wanted it but had not received it (5% vs. 9%).

” A 2014 report found that LGBTQ youth are at heightened risk for suicidal outcomes, but risk varies based on sex and race/ethnicity.

o In general, LGBTQ youth were three times more likely than non-LGBQ youth to contemplate suicide, make a suicide plan, harm themselves, or attempt suicide compared to non-LGBTQ youth.

o LGBTQ females had higher prevalence of suicide thoughts, attempts, and self-harm than their male counterparts.

o Compared to white LGBTQ youth, Asian and Black LGBTQ youth were at significantly lower odds of suicidal ideation, suicide planning, and self-harm. Alaskan Native/Pacific Islander and Latino LGBTQ youths were at significantly higher risk of a suicide attempt in the past year.

” A 2019 report found that anti-bullying laws that explicitly protect youth based on sexual orientation are associated with fewer suicide attempts among all youth, regardless of sexual orientation.

“Experiences of discrimination and bullying can lead to suicidal behavior in LGBT people,” said Ilan Meyer, Distinguished Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “Policies and interventions that effectively reduce stigma and discrimination while strengthening support networks and community connectedness could help reduce the risk of suicide for LGBT adults and youth.”

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.

Courtesy of the Williams Institute

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