Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadians aged 15-24 according to Statistics Canada—only accidents cause more deaths. In 2007 there were over 500 suicides among Canadians under the age of 25, and many thousands of attempts. Unfortunately, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and two-spirited youth, as well as youth questioning their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, are at a much higher risk of suicide than their peers. Research results generally confirm that LGB youth have much higher levels of suicidal thinking and attempts than their heterosexual peers – 4 to 7 times more attempts. “Among lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, the risk of attempting suicide was 20% greater in unsupportive environments compared to supportive environments.”
It is unknown, however, how many of these youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, Two Spirit or queer (LGBTQ), or may be struggling with questions about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Increasingly, however, studies confirm that suicidal ideation and behaviour are disproportionately prevalent among LGBTQ youth in comparison to their non-LGBTQ peers:
- 33% of LGB youth have attempted suicide in comparison to 7% of youth in general (Saewyc 2007).
- Over half of GLB students (47% of GB males and 73% of LB females) have thought about suicide (Eisenberg & Resnick, 2006).
- In 2010, 47% of trans youth in Ontario had thought about suicide and 19% had attempted suicide in the preceding year (Scanlon, Travers, Coleman, Bauer, & Boyce, 2010).
- LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers
- Adolescent youth who have been rejected by their families for being LGB are over 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Ryan, Huebner, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2009).
- A study in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario revealed that 28% of transgender and Two Spirit people had attempted suicide at least once
- Both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at a higher risk for suicide than their peers. Children who are both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at the highest risk
- While suicide is never the result of one cause, bullying can have a long-lasting effect on suicide risk and mental health. The relationship between bullying and suicide is stronger for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth than for their heterosexual peers
- 68% of trans students, 55% of LB students and 42% of GB students reported being verbally harassed about their perceived gender identity or sexual orientation.
- 20% of LGBTQ students reported being physically harassed or assaulted about their perceived gender identity or sexual orientation.
- 49% of trans students, 33% of lesbian students and 40% of gay male students have experienced sexual harassment in school in the last year (Taylor et al. 2011).
TELL SOMEONE. DO NOT SWEAR TO SECRECY.
Call 911 or go to the hospital emergency department:
Community Crisis Centre (Ages 16+) 24-Hr Crisis Line: 519-973-4435
Windsor Distress Centre (All Ages) 12pm-12am: 519-256-5000
Windsor Regional Hospital (1995 Lens Avenue, Windsor Ontario)
Windsor Regional Hospital (1030 Ouellette Avenue, Windsor, Ontario)
Erie Shores Healthcare (194 Talbot Street West, Leamington, Ontario)
Many suicidal people indicate their intent either verbally or through changes in behavior.
People who feel suicidal may:
- Show a sudden change in mood or behavior
- Show a sense of hopelessness and helplessness
- Express the wish to die or end their life
- Increase substance abuse
- Withdraw from people and activities that they previously enjoyed
- Experience changes in sleeping patterns
- Have a decreased appetite
- Give away prized possessions or make preparations for their death (i.e. creating a will)
IF SOMEONE YOU KNOW:
- Threatens suicide
- Talks about wanting to die
- Appears depressed, sad, withdrawn
- Deliberately injures him/herself
- Shows changes in mood, behavior or appearance
- Abuses drugs and/or alcohol
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
- Stay calm and listen
- Let the person talk about their feelings
- Be accepting, do not judge
- Ask if they have suicidal thoughts
- Let them know help is available
- Stay with them until connected to help
- Take all threats of suicide seriously
Information provided by the Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex County, Rainbow Health Ontario.