- September 14, 2015
It’s an unfortunate reality that, due to societal discrimination, school bullying, and family rejection, LGBTQ young people are at increased risk for behavioral health issues, ranging from drug and alcohol use to anxiety, depression and suicide. Suicide Prevention Month highlights the need to address these critical issues for LGB youth, who are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
Although research among transgender adults indicates they are at even higher risk for suicide, there is less research pertaining to transgender youth, although some research shows that nearly half of transgender youth have seriously considered suicide. One of the more important ways we can reduce risk for suicide and other negative behavioral health outcomes is to ensure that LGBTQ youth have access to safe and affirming mental health practitioners.
However, mental health access for LGBTQ youth is limited in several ways. First, many states limit access based on the age at which minors can get care without parental consent and others deny minors confidentiality in care. Second, LGBTQ youth are the target of the deceptive industry of “conversion therapy,” which seeks to convince parents and youth that LGBTQ people need to or can be “fixed.” Research not only shows that conversion therapy does not work, it also shows that it can be very harmful. LGBTQ youth experience conversion therapy as a form of family rejection, which can greatly increase their risk for anxiety, depression, drug use and suicide. Every mainstream medical and mental health organization has condemned this dangerous practice.
Fortunately, more and more experts and lawmakers are challenging the practice of conversion therapy. The White House and the Surgeon General have called for states to pass laws to protect youth from conversion therapy, and five jurisdictions (California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, and Illinois) have already done so. These laws make clear that these harmful practices are not appropriate or acceptable for state-licensed providers. Moreover, they help inform parents about these deceptive practices and highlight the importance of family acceptance, which is one of the most important thing parents can do to help their LGBTQ children thrive.
If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the Trevor Lifeline now at 866-488-7386.