SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – New data released by the CDC shows that about 1 in 4 lesbian, gay or bisexual teens attempted suicide in the first six months of 2021. That data also says over 46% of lesbian, gay, or bisexual youth in the United States seriously considered suicide during the same time frame. For straight youth, that number was about 14%.
In Utah, where teen suicide rates are already higher than the national average, advocates say LGBTQ youth are especially at risk.
“These LGBTQ youth, they have similar experiences right, where they experience rejection and discrimination from their families their communities their schools,” said Jordan Sgro, the Chief Programs Officer at Encircle. “If you’re an LGBTQ person and you’re just constantly hearing these negative messages about you and your identity it, leads to an increased risk of suicide and how you feel about yourself as a person.”
According to a survey by the Utah Department of Human Services, in Utah, about 48% of gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers seriously considered suicide in 2021.
“Feeling like you’re being told who you are, a part of your identity is prescribed to you, when you know maybe that’s not who you are, and there’s an expectation that maybe you’re going to fail your family,” said Jessica Dummar, Co-CEO over Legal and Operations at the Utah Pride Center, when asked why suicidal thoughts are prevalent in LGBTQ youth.
But there are several resources both statewide and nationally that teens struggling with suicidal thoughts can turn to. Along with these resources, David Christensen, the Treatment Supervisor at Salt Lake County Youth Services said support from family can help teens understand they are loved and they belong.
“Even though you may have a youth who is, say, not accepted on a societal level, if they have a supportive family structure who accepts them for who they are, you’re going to see much lower incidences for mental health issues as well as suicidality,” said Christensen.