On World Suicide Prevention Day, Human Rights Campaign Remembers Loved Ones Lost

by Kathryn Smith

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, announced its recognition of National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month month throughout September, with World Suicide Prevention Day falling on September 10.

HRC is marking World Suicide Prevention Day by reaffirming its commitment to supporting the well-being of LGBTQ+ people, especially queer and trans youth, who are too often made to feel hopeless and alone simply for being who they are. The organization will also uplift the life and legacy of Henry Berg-Brousseau, a beloved member of the HRC team who tragically died by suicide in December 2022.

We are living in a state of emergency and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has real-life consequences beyond discriminatory laws and policies. To be clear, LGBTQ+ people are not inherently more prone to suicide. But because of discrimination and stigma, our community’s risk is much higher than non-LGBTQ people. This National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, we are thinking of our colleague and friend Henry, who died by suicide last December and whose death left an open wound in our family that will never fully heal. For those who are struggling, please know that help is out there and the world is better with you in it.

Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign

The mental health disparities between LGBTQ+ people and non-LGBTQ+ people — especially LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ youth — continues to be an alarming trend. In 2021, the CDC reported that 42% of all high school aged youth in the US experienced “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness,” the highest percentage reported in over a decade. That same year, almost 70% of LGBQ+ youth reported experiencing this, twice that of non-LGBTQ+ youth (35%). According to HRC’s 2023 Youth survey Report, over half (55%) of LGBTQ+ youth, and 60% of transgender and gender-expansive youth, screened positive for depression, and two-thirds of LGBTQ+ youth (63.5%), and transgender and gender-expansive youth (68.2%), screened positive for anxiety.

Familial support has been shown to drastically decrease levels of depression. For instance, two-thirds (65.5%) of transgender and gender-expansive youth who report their families never refer to them with correct pronouns screened positive for depression; in comparison, less than half (49.6%) of transgender and gender-expansive youth who report their families always use correct pronouns did.

Participating in school sports and other extracurricular activities can also have numerous positive benefits for youth—regardless of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Both sports and extracurricular activity participation are associated with school connectedness, which in turn is associated with reduced risk behaviors, higher grades and graduation rates, and lower levels of suicidality and poor mental health. When bans, such as those on transgender participation in sports are implemented that are currently in place across half of the United States, it strips LGBTQ+ youth from having access to the mental health benefits provided by those extracurriculars.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health concerns, please refer to the list of resources below:

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To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email press@hrc.org.