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Even though suicidal behavior among The United States LGBTQ+ kids is declining, the problems are still pervasive.
Two studies were conducted that tracked the trends amongst US teenagers over the years. According to the studies, there have been more and more kids that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The likely hood of these LGBTQ+ kids who report suicidal thoughts hand behavior has gone down.
That is just good news. The bad news is that these LGBTQ+ kids are at a higher risk of suicide than heterosexual peers.
What does the research say about LGBTQ+ kids?
There was one study that said LGBT+ teenagers are over three times more likely to report a suicide attempt than heterosexual kids. The other study has a similar pattern. The LGBTQ+ kids reported a high prevalence of suicidal thoughts in 2017. Out of which quarter said they had attempted suicide in the past year.
Even so, the studies could not dig up the reasons for these thoughts and attempts.
But there was still some research that suggested that bullying plays a major role. According to Brian Mustanski, director of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing at Northwestern University in Chicago bullying is a major cause for these attempts.
It is well known and seen that LGBTQ+ kids are more likely to be bullied than their straight peers. It is usually these heterosexuals kids that take to bullying LGBTQ+ kids. But there has been a slight change in the issue. That is because some schools have strong anti-bullying policies. Mustanski says that studies show that the rate of reports is considerably less.
Hence, efforts to combat bullying in schools could be part of the solution.
Mustanski says, “I don’t think that would be enough to eliminate the disparities in suicidal ideation and behavior.” He adds that school suicidal-prevention programs may also address other issued that LGBTQ+ kids face.
Let’s look at some statistics
For one of the studies, researchers looked at data of high school students across seven states. These students were part of a periodic government health survey. According to the survey between 2009 and 2017, the percentage of kids who identified as LGBT doubled from 7% to 14%
The study has also noted that the percentage is more than triple the risk among heterosexual students.
Despite all this, LGBTQ+ kids are still more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide compared to their peers.
There has to be a way to overcome this
Stigma from families, peers, society fuel suicidal behavior among LGBTQ+ kids.
But there are a few factors that buffer them. This included having a supportive family.
Families are critical when it comes to overcoming stigma. Raifman pointed to a study that says that LGBTQ+ are more likely to attempt suicide if their families ahs rejected them when they came out in their teens.
He added, “This doesn’t mean all sexual-minority youth are at increased risk. In fact, most of them do well and thrive.”
Next read: What To Do When Your Kid Comes Out To You