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Many LGBTQ Youth Suffer From Mental Health Woes

TUESDAY, July 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- As many as 40% of LGBTQ youth and more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth contemplated taking their life in the past year, according to a new report.

Also, one in three LGBTQ youth said they had been threatened or harmed because of their sexual identity, researchers from the nonprofit Trevor Project found in their 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health.

"This survey -- the largest ever conducted on LGBTQ youth mental health -- provides critical insights into the lives of LGBTQ youth and risk factors for suicide," said Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of the organization.

"We know that a one-size-fits-all approach to suicide prevention does not work; the need for robust research, systematic data collection, and comprehensive mental health support has never been greater," Paley added in a Trevor Project news release.

According to the report, 46% of the respondents wanted help from a mental health professional but couldn't get it in the past year.

Also, transgender and nonbinary youth who had their pronouns respected tried suicide at half the rate of those whose pronouns weren't respected.

The survey, released July 15, included more than 40,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (or queer) youth.

Most of the respondents had symptoms of anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder (68% and 55%, respectively). And almost half said they had harmed themselves in the previous year, including six in 10 transgender and nonbinary youth.

The survey also found that 10% of LGBTQ youth had conversion therapy, with nearly eight in 10 saying it occurred when they were under 18.

Those who had conversion therapy tried suicide at more than twice the rate as those who didn't, the findings showed.

A significant proportion of the young people surveyed had been kicked out or had run away from home because of their sexual identity.

More than 40% of LGBTQ youth said they couldn't get mental health care because they were concerned about parental permission.

Nearly 50% of transgender and nonbinary youth didn't get mental health care because they were concerned about "the LGBTQ competence of providers."

The report uses "transgender and nonbinary" as an umbrella term to encompass a wide variety of gender identities.

With support and acceptance, suicide attempts drop, the researchers noted.

"We have found, now year over year, that greater levels of support and acceptance is associated with dramatically lower rates of attempting suicide," said Dr. Amy Green, director of research at the Trevor Project. "This includes the powerful role of gender-affirming care and support for transgender and nonbinary youth."

Green said the findings "serve as a clarion call for us to prioritize affirming systems of support for LGBTQ youth that will benefit society for years to come."

More information

The American Psychological Association has more on gender identity.

SOURCE: Trevor Project, news release, July 15, 2020

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