Every year, on average, 500 Canadian youth (ages 10 – 24) die by suicide (Statistics Canada). It is unknown, however, how many of these youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, Two Spirit or queer (LGBTQ), or may be struggling with questions about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Increasingly, however, studies confirm that suicidal ideation and behaviour are disproportionately prevalent among LGBTQ youth in comparison to their non-LGBTQ peers:
- 33% of LGB youth have attempted suicide in comparison to 7% of youth in general (Saewyc 2007).
- Over half of GLB students (47% of GB males and 73% of LB females) have thought about suicide (Eisenberg & Resnick, 2006).
- In 2010, 47% of trans youth in Ontario had thought about suicide and 19% had attempted suicide in the preceding year (Scanlon, Travers, Coleman, Bauer, & Boyce, 2010).
- LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Massachusetts Department of Education, 2009).
- Adolescent youth who have been rejected by their families for being LGB are over 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Ryan, Huebner, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2009).
- A study in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario revealed that 28% of transgender and Two Spirit people had attempted suicide at least once (Taylor, 2006).
- Both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at a higher risk for suicide than their peers. Children who are both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at the highest risk (Kim & Leventhal, 2008; “Suicide and bullying: Issue brief,” 2011).
- While suicide is never the result of one cause, bullying can have a long-lasting effect on suicide risk and mental health. The relationship between bullying and suicide is stronger for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth than for their heterosexual peers (Kim & Leventhal, 2008):
- 68% of trans students, 55% of LB students and 42% of GB students reported being verbally harassed about their perceived gender identity or sexual orientation.
- 20% of LGBTQ students reported being physically harassed or assaulted about their perceived gender identity or sexual orientation.
- 49% of trans students, 33% of lesbian students and 40% of gay male students have experienced sexual harassment in school in the last year (Taylor et al. 2011).
For more information:
Eisenberg, Marla E., and Michael D. Resnick. 2006. “Suicidality Among Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth: The Role of Protective Factors.” Journal of Adolescent Health 39: 662–668.
Kim, Y., & Leventhal, B. (2008). Bullying and suicide: A review. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 20(2), 133–154Saewyc, Elizabeth M. 2007. “Contested Conclusions: Claims That Can (and Cannot) Be Made from the Current Research on Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Teen Suicide Attempts.” Journal of LGBT Health Research 3 (1): 79–87.
Massachusetts Department of Education. (2009). Massachusetts High School Students and Sexual Orientation: Results of the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Massachusetts. Retrieved from http://www.doe.mass.edu/cnp/hprograms/yrbs/.
Ryan, C., Huebner, D., Diaz, R. M., & Sanchez, J. (2009). Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young Adults. Pediatrics, 123(1), 346–352.
Scanlon, Kyle, Robb Travers, Todd Coleman, Greta Bauer, and Michelle Boyce. 2010. “Ontario’s Trans Communities and Suicide: Transphobia Is Bad for Our Health”. Trans PULSE E-Bulletin Vol. 1, Issue 2. Trans PULSE. http://www.transpulseproject.ca/public_downloads.html.
Taylor, C. (2006). Nowhere Near Enough: A Needs Assessment of Health and Safety Services for Transgender and Two Spirit People in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. Final Report. Winnipeg, Manitoba: University of Winnipeg.
Taylor, C., Peter, T., McMinn, T. L., Elliott, T., Beldom, S., Ferry, A., Gross, Z., et al. (2011). Every class in every school: The first national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools. Final Report. Toronto, ON: Egale Canada Human Rights Trust.
For more information:
Helen Kennedy, Executive Director, 416-964-7887 ext. 7000