HRC acknowledged Utah Gov. Gary Herbert for convening a task force to address a troubling uptick in suicides among youth -- and especially LGBTQ youth -- in his state. Task force members, including Ronald A. Rasband, a leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Gail Miller, owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz; and Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah; are expected to submit recommendations to the governor by February 15.
“In far too many corners of this country, LGBTQ youth are bullied and harassed to the brink of suicide at school, in their communities, and even around their own dinner tables,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The only way we will end this epidemic of teen suicide is for leaders from all sectors — public and private — to take a firm stand against homophobia, transphobia, neglect, and rejection. Every adult has an obligation to do more to protect our young people, and the actions taken by leaders in Utah are an important first step.”
“Together, we will identify how we can reduce the escalating number of young people attempting suicide,” said Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah. “We already know the protective factors that reduce the risk of suicide among teens. We know that when young people experience a deep sense of love and belonging, they thrive. When we have reliable scientific data on risk factors, we understand the scope of the problem. When the law is carefully tailored and includes all protected classes, everyone wins.”
According to HRC’s Growing Up LGBT in America, a groundbreaking survey of more than 10,000 LGBT-identified youth ages 13-17, 92 percent of LGBT youth say they hear negative messages about being LGBTQ. These negative messages can have a profound impact: a 2016 study by the Center for Disease Control found that 43 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual high school students seriously considered suicide in the 12 months prior to the study, compared to 15 percent of their non-LGBTQ peers. Additionally, UCLA’s Williams Institute and American Foundation on Suicide Prevention reported in 2014 that 41 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming adults had attempted suicide. For those who had suffered discrimination, rejection, or violence because of their gender identity, the rate was even higher -- in some cases reaching a shocking 78 percent.
If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you’re a young person and need to talk to someone, call The Trevor Project’s 24-hour crisis hotline for youth at 1-866-488-7386. If you are a transgender person of any age, call the Trans Lifeline at (877) 565-8860.