LGBTQ kids are at higher risk for suicide than their peers, but this report’s findings could help save their lives
We already know that mental health is a serious concern for LGBTQ+ kids. The discrimination and bullying they so often face have a seriously detrimental effect on their mental well-being. Couple that with a political landscape that seems determined to strip away rights for minority populations one by one, and it’s no wonder these kids are struggling. Who wouldn’t, facing such an uphill battle with no end in sight?
But a new report on LGBTQ+ youth mental health from the Trevor Project gives us hope.
Surveys conducted by the nonprofit showed that having just one accepting adult in their lives, whether it’s a parent, family member, or someone else entirely, can reduce the risk of a suicide attempt by 40 percent. That’s cutting the risk almost in half, just because of one supportive person.
The Trevor Project’s survey was conducted with more than 25,000 LGBTQ+ youth, ages 13 to 24. It’s just one small part of the Trevor Project’s 2019 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which promises to shed a lot of light on the struggles kids are facing today. One of the report’s other findings is that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ+ youths in the United States alone contemplate a suicide attempt each year. That’s a lot of kids who deserve and need our help and support.
There have been previous studies done about the effect supportive adults can have on the mental well-being of LGBTQ+ kids. But those studies have largely focused on supportive adults within the kids’ own families, like parents, older siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. The Trevor Project’s study is particularly significant, because it shows that support doesn’t need to come from within a kid’s own family to have a huge impact on their mental health. It can come from a coach, teacher, club leader, neighbor, or any other older person in the kid’s life.
That means that all of us can put this research to good use by being those supportive adults. If there’s an LGBTQ+ kid in your life, regardless of your relationship with them, you can be the supportive adult they need. It’s not hard — just let them know that you will always love, support, and accept them no matter what. Let them know that who they are will never change how you feel about them. It’s a small task, and it could be literally life-saving — you don’t know if that kid is getting that support from any other grownups.
This is probably one of the easiest ways you can make the world a better place, so start reaching out and showing love and acceptance. It could be the one small act that saves a kid’s life.