“LGBTQ2S” stands for “Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Questioning, and Two-Spirit.” Lesbian, gay and bisexual refer to an individual’s sexual orientation, while transgender refers to gender identity and questioning, (LGBTQ2S) refers to those who are in the process of exploring the nature of their sexual orientation or gender identity. To learn more about the two-spirit identity, visit Two Spirit Ι Health Resources. LGBTQ2S individuals are generally thought to be at higher risk for suicidal behavior because sexual orientation and gender identity are not included on death certificates, we do not actually know whether LGBTQ2S youth die by suicide more often than their peers. However, several studies have shown that LGBTQ2S or sexual minority youth think about and attempt suicide more frequently than their sexual majority peers. While data limitations make it difficult to determine whether LGBTQ2S youth actually die by suicide at a higher rate than straight youth, the fact that they have a higher attempt rate makes it probable that they may indeed have a higher rate of suicide death.
While being an individual identified as LGBTQ2S in and of itself is not a risk factor for suicide, LGBTQ2S youth are at risk for suicide. Risk factors for suicide include those found for youth in general, but also include additional risk factors more likely to occur with LGBTQ2S issues such as discrimination, victimization, lack of social support, family issues, homelessness, and behavioral health disorders. Protective factors that can help mitigate suicide risk for LGBTQ2S individuals include strong family or peer support, connections with school staff or other caring adults, positive relationships, and access to behavioral health professionals and primary healthcare providers.
It is very important to recognize that the time of “coming out” to friends and family can be associated with a high degree of stress, especially for those individuals who lack good support systems. Care providers need to discuss their client’s plans for this experience to help ensure adequate resources and supports are available during this difficult time.
One great resource for youth during times of “coming out” or during times of isolation, stress, loneliness,and despair, is The Trevor Project. “The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.” They not only have a TrevorLifeline (1-866-488-7386) but they also have TrevorChat, TrevorText and TrevorSpace accessible through their website thetrevorproject.org. Furthermore, The Trevor Project has a guide “COMING OUT – A Handbook for LGBTQ Young People” that can be helpful to youth and their caregivers.
- In South Dakota, a variety of organizations provide support services and guidance to LGBTQ2S individuals experiencing various risk factors for mental health conditions and suicide. These organizations include:
- The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.
- Suicide Prevention among LGBT Youth: A Workshop for Professionals Who Serve Youth is a free workshop kit to help staff in schools, youth-serving organizations, and suicide prevention programs take action to reduce suicidal behavior among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.
- The Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s (SPRC) resources for LGBTQ youth can be found by clicking this link.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a resource kit “Top Health Issues for LGBT Populations Information & Resource Kit” that informs health care providers and prevention specialists about the health experiences of LGBTQ populations.
- GLSEN is an education organization creating safe schools for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
- PFLAG is the first and largest organization for LGBTQ+ people, their parents and families, and allies. With over 400 chapters and 200,000 members across America providing support, education, and advocacy, PFLAG is committed to creating a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued, and affirmed.
More information about LGBTQ youth and resources can also be found on the CDC website.
If you are interested in obtaining these materials, order materials here.