One in four LGBTQ youth in the U.S. who experienced high levels of trauma reported a suicide attempt in the past year, according to new data released Thursday by The Trevor Project.
Researchers with the nonprofit — the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ and questioning youth — analyzed the link between experiences of trauma and suicide risk among LGBTQ kids and young adults, between the ages of 13 and 24.
They found that those who reported “high levels of trauma symptoms” were more than three times more likely to have attempted suicide when compared to those with moderate, low or no symptoms of trauma.
“Experiences of discrimination, harassment, and violence against LGBTQ youth can contribute to trauma symptoms, which can include feeling scared, anxious, or unsafe in the world, often,” Dr. Myeshia Price, the group’s senior research scientist, told the Daily News.
Researchers analyzed data from The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey of LGBTQ Youth Mental Health — which was released in May and found that 45% of LGBTQ youth had considered attempting suicide in the past year — to take a closer look at the relationship between trauma and suicide, and to examine the difference in trauma symptoms according to race, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation.
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“We must consider the harm that discriminatory policies — and the ugly rhetoric surrounding them — can have when it comes to the potential for traumatizing LGBTQ youth. We urge lawmakers to implement policies that protect LGBTQ youth from anti-LGBTQ and racist discrimination, as our findings indicate doing so may support effective interventions for reducing trauma symptoms and suicide risk among LGBTQ youth,” Price said.
Symptoms of trauma were significantly higher among LGBTQ youth of color — with the highest rates found among Native/Indigenous (52%), Middle Eastern/Northern African (44%) and Latinx (37%) LGBTQ youth.
They were also higher among transgender and nonbinary youth when compared to their cisgender counterparts. Over half (52%) of transgender boys and young men reported high levels of trauma symptoms, while 44% of nonbinary and 40% of trans girls and women did so.
Among cisgender boys and girls, the percentage of people who reported high levels of trauma dropped to 18% and 30% respectively.
Only 4% of youth said they never experienced any type or trauma, while more than one in three of them (37%) said they experienced high levels of trauma.
According to researchers, the data suggests that public health intervention aimed at reducing the risk of suicide among LGBTQ youth needs to take into consideration screening for symptoms, as well as treatment of trauma.
“Given the disproportionate experiences of trauma and associated symptoms among LGBTQ youth, mental health care professionals should prioritize providing LGBTQ-affirming care,” they wrote.