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Aug 20, 2014

SUICIDE AMONG LGBTQ INDIVIDUALS

This week I would like to speak concretely about suicide rates in the U.S., particularly among LGBTQ individuals. I'm not a numbers person, but sometimes it helps me to see numbers in order to more comprehensively grasp an issue at hand. Here are the numbers for suicide that I collected from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Trevor Project, and American Association of Suicidology; the latest data is available for the year 2011):
 
• Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.
• The highest suicide rate was among 45- to 64-year-olds.
• Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among 10- to 24-year-olds.
• Suicide occurs about 4 times more frequently among men than women.
• The highest suicide rate was among Whites (after American Indians and Alaska Natives).
• Black and Hispanic youth attempt suicide more frequently than White youth.
• LGB youth attempt suicide 4 times more often and questioning youth 3 times more often than straight youth.
• Suicide among transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals was 41%, as opposed to 4.6% among general U.S. population and 10-20% among LGB adults.
 
Adding to these statistics, substance abuse is prevalent among LGBTQ individuals and, considering that substance abuse and suicide have a tight connection, being aware of this risk factor is very important. In my previous posts I have spoken about various issues through which LGBTQ individuals go, so it can give you an overview of some risk factors. When working with LGBTQIA individuals, I strongly encourage counselors to be aware of few points:

• Always be extra vigilant of depressive symptoms.
• Always scan for substance abuse.
• Always scan for suicide ideation, and current and past attempts.

Please take a minute or two to soak up these disturbing statistics and always keep them in mind when working with LGBTQIA youth in particular.
________________________________________________________________________
Evelyn Pavlova is a counselor and an Ally, whose preferred population is LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, invisible minority, asexual, and ally) individuals. Her areas of interest are eating disorders, mood disorders, mindfulness, and spirituality. Read more about her new counseling journey at www.curvyroad.weebly.com

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1 Comment

  1. 1 Chris 02 Sep
    Thank you for posting these scary statistics. The one that really stood out is the 41% Transgender and gender nonconforming suicide rate. It shows that almost half of this community commits suicide (as of 2011). That's shocking and warrants greater resources to combat. Fortunately, we are seeing significant movement in the rights and acceptability of this segment, within broader society and even within the GLBTQ community.

    Of course, the stats indicate that suicide was prominent throughout the GLBTQ population. I agree that we need to be more cognizant of the factors and indicators for suicide. Better education among healthcare professionals along with greater research into the root causes of these stats seems warranted. Often, we find that proper mental care would prevent (or would have been preventable in hindsight) for people from taking a negative path. Mood disorders are becoming more prevalent, yet treatable than in the past.

    Treatment should become more preventative than reactive. That is a goal we can all agree about.

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