Skip to main content

Suicide Prevention in LGBTQ Youth

Karyna Sitkowski

The subject of suicide has always been a difficult conversation to have. Having an open conversation about mental health can be difficult but speaking about suicide is still taboo for most people. However, one of the main ways to reduce suicide risk is to have an open conversation. Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of wellbeing in which the individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stress of their life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community”. Mental illness is a diagnosable illness that affects a person’s thinking, emotional state, and behavior. It can disrupt the person’s ability to work or carry out other daily activities and/or engage in satisfying personal relationships.

When it comes to suicide rates, LGBTQ youth face a higher suicide rate compared to heterosexual youth. Being LGBTQ does not necessarily mean the child will develop mental health issues but it means they have a higher risk of developing such issues. Specific factors such as bullying, discrimination, rejection, and lack of safe spaces can heavily attribute to mental illness or suicide. In 2020, the suicide rate for adolescents and young adults was 14.24%. Overall, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. For LGBTQ youth, 45% seriously considered attempting suicide within the last year. It was reported that 60% of LGBTQ youth who wanted mental healthcare were unable to receive it.

Supporting LGBTQ youth can make a large difference when it comes to developing mental illness and/or risk of suicide. Parenting can be difficult but the best thing you can do for your child is to learn how to accept them as they are even if you don’t understand everything regarding LGBTQ issues. The acronym for LGBTQ is:

L:  Lesbian: A noun that describes women who are attracted to other women. Lesbians call also refer to themselves as “gay.

G: Gay a term that refers to people who are attracted to other people of the same gender. This word used to only refer to men but now is can be used by anyone attracted to the same gender.

B: Bisexual A sexual orientation that a person can be attracted to more than one gender.

T: Transgender is a term for people whose gender identity differs from the gender that they were born as.

Q: Queer is a broad term that refers to people that identify outside of heterosexuality.


When it comes to suicide, there is no single cause. A combination of stressors and health issues can create hopelessness and despair which can contribute to suicidal behaviors. There are signs to look for if you believe someone you know may be thinking of suicide. Some examples are:

If a person talks about:

•            Killing themselves

•            Feeling hopeless

•            Having no reason to live

•            Being a burden to others

•            Feeling trapped

•            Unbearable pain

Behavioral changes such as:

•            Increased use of alcohol or drugs

•            Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods

•            Withdrawing from activities

•            Isolating from family and friends

•            Sleeping too much or too little

•            Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

•            Giving away prized possessions

•            Aggression

•            Fatigue


Moods such as:

•            Depression

•            Anxiety

•            Loss of interest

•            Irritability

•            Humiliation/Shame

•            Agitation/Anger


But how can you help someone who is contemplating suicide?

Have an honest conversation

1.           Talk to them in private

2.           Listen to their story

3.           Tell them you care about them

4.           Ask directly if they are thinking about suicide

5.           Encourage them to seek treatment or contact their doctor or therapist

6.           Avoid debating the value of life, minimizing their problems or giving advice


If a person says they are seriously considering suicide:

•            Take the person seriously

•            Stay with them

•            Help them remove and reduce access lethal means such as pills, guns, knives, or other weapons.

•            Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988

•            Text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7

•            Escort them to mental health services or an emergency room


Suicide is completely preventable. Society must learn to speak about topics such as suicide to destigmatize mental health and keep the conversation going. When it comes to being a part of the LGBTQ community, we should remember that there are struggles when navigating sexuality. Support and love from family, friends, and communities are the best preventative factors with anyone who is struggling with mental health.

If you or someone else is struggling with mental health, please reach out to the resources below.

  • National Suicide Prevention line: The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. Please call 988 if in crisis or need advice with helping someone who is struggling with mental health or suicidal actions or thoughts.

  • Trevor Project: The Trevor Project provides 24/7 crisis support services to LGBTQ young people. Text (678-678), chat online, or call (1-866-488-7386) anytime to reach a trained counselor.


  • NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness): NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., ET.

Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text "HelpLine" to 62640 or email us at Online chat is also available.



Find An Agency Near You

Agencies will give detailed information about licensing, training, and orientation.


Or Call

We are here to help
Mon-Fri: 8:30 - 5 and Wed: 8:30 - 7

1-855-MICHKIDS (642-4543)