Almost a quarter (23.4%) of high school students identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual reported attempting suicide in the prior 12 months.This rate is nearly four times higher than the rate reported among heterosexual students (6.4%).

  -Ivey-Stephenson AZ, Demissie Z, Crosby AE, et al. Suicidal Ideation and Behaviors Among High School Students —Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2019. MMWR Suppl 2020;69(Suppl-1):47–55. DOI:

Understanding Gender Identities 

Gender identity isn’t an easy topic to understand, and sometimes we need to unlearn some of our old ideas about what it is so that we can really get what gender is all about. Most of us were taught that there are only two genders (man/masculine and woman/feminine) and two sexes (male and female). However, there is a lot more to it than that.

Gender is actually a social construct, which is an idea created by people to help categorize and explain the world around them. You may not notice it all the time, but each gender comes with a set of expectations, like how to act, talk, dress, feel emotion, and interact with other people. For example, when you think of a teenage boy in America, what comes to mind? Do you imagine him playing football, or do you picture him dancing in a ballet recital? It’s likely that you imagined him playing football, first – but why? Click to Learn More

Some Key Protective Factors for LGBTQ Youth Suicide

  • Social Support and Acceptance from Adults and Peers 
    • Having at least one accepting adult can reduce the risk of a suicide attempt among LGBTQ young people by 40 percent.
    • A 2021 peer-reviewed study by The Trevor Project’s researchers, published in Transgender Health, found that transgender and nonbinary youth who reported gender identity acceptance from adults and peers had significantly lower odds of attempting suicide in the past year.
    • LGBTQ youth who felt high social support from their family reported attempting suicide at less than half the rate of those who felt low or moderate social support.
    • LGBTQ youth who live in a community that is accepting of LGBTQ people reported much lower rates of attempting suicide than those who do not.
  • Affirming Spaces and Activities, Especially at School
    • The Trevor Project’s research has found that LGBTQ youth who found their school and home to be LGBTQ-affirming reported lower rates of attempting suicide.
    • LGBTQ youth who report the presence of trusted adults in their school have higher levels of self-esteem (Dessel et al., 2017) and access to supportive peers is protective against anxiety and depression, including among those who lack support from their family (Parra et al., 2018).
    • Schools also offer youth the ability to participate in extracurricular activities and clubs, which have been found to promote positive youth development (Eccles et al., 2003). The presence of Gender and Sexualities Alliances (GSAs) has been found to significantly reduce the risk for depression and increase well-being among LGBTQ youth and young adults (Toomey et al., 2011).
  • Policies and Practices that Support Transgender and Nonbinary Youth
    • Transgender and nonbinary youth attempt suicide less when their pronouns are respected, when they are allowed to officially change the gender marker on their legal documents, and when they have access to spaces (online, at school, and home) that affirm their gender identity. 
    • Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all or most people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate 
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