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