People who are a part of LGBTQIA+ communities are more likely to experience symptoms of depression due to oppression and discrimination. These factors can arise at school, at home, and within their wider communities.

This article will discuss statistics about depression among LGBTQIA+ communities, where to find support, and suicide prevention.

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Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions that people develop in the United States. In 2017, mental health professionals diagnosed depression in roughly 17.3 million adults and 3.2 million adolescents.

People who are a part of LGBTQIA+ communities are nearly twice as likely to develop anxiety and depression than those in the general population. They are also more at risk of suicidal behaviors and self-harm than those who are cisgender and heterosexual.

LGBTQIA+ youths can experience abuse and discrimination during their school years, both from other students and from the wider school environment.

A 2013 report by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) states that:

  • Over half of LGBT students feel unsafe because of their sexual orientation, and over a third feel unsafe because of their gender expression.
  • A third of LGBT students miss at least 1 day of school per month due to feeling unsafe.
  • Over half of LGBT students hear homophobic remarks or negative remarks about gender expression from school staff.
  • Around 74% of LGBT students experience verbal harassment because of their sexual or gender expression, over a third experience physical harassment, and 16% experience physical assault.
  • Around 60% of LGBT students who reported incidents said that school staff did nothing in response.
  • Over half of LGBT students personally experience discriminatory policies or practices, such as not being able to be publicly affectionate or not being able to take same-gender people to dances and functions.

LGBTQIA+ students are more than three times as likely to miss school due to experiencing discrimination and abuse than students who do not experience any oppression.

The same students are also more likely to have lower grade point averages and are less likely to seek post-secondary education. LGBTQIA+ youths who experience discrimination and abuse are also more likely to have depression and lower self-esteem.

Schools can mitigate the impact of discrimination and abuse on LGBTQIA+ students by implementing policies that prohibit discrimination and creating support groups, such as gay-straight alliances.

Some other ways that schools can support LGBTQIA+ youths include:

  • encouraging respect and implementing anti-bullying policies
  • creating safe spaces where students can receive support from school staff
  • creating opportunities for students to form support groups, such as gender and sexuality alliances
  • including LGBTQIA+ sex education on the school curriculum
  • providing LGBTQIA+ support and sensitivity training to all school staff
  • offering access to LGBTQIA+ community services that provide counseling, psychological, health, and social support

Many LGBTQIA+ youths do not feel able to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to their parents or caregivers. Some of this is due to a fear of rejection, which may include homelessness.

According to one 2016 study, around 40% of youths without homes are LGBTQIA+, which may suggest that some families cut off contact with and support to their children if they disclose their sexual orientation.

Also, LGBTQIA+ youths who experience rejection from their family are more at risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidality.

LGBTQIA+ youths who inform their family of their sexual orientation report more verbal and physical abuse from their families than those who do not disclose their sexual orientation. Young people who experience rejection from their family are also more likely to report suicidality and clinical depression.

There are several ways that parents and caregivers can foster a supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ youths. They can talk and listen to their children at home so that they feel safe and comfortable talking about any discrimination and abuse that they experience elsewhere.

Parents and caregivers should also be aware of available resources and support services for both LGBTQIA+ youths and for themselves. Resources can help educate people about the issues that youths in their care might face and give practical advice on creating a supportive and caring environment.

Adults who are a part of LGBTQIA+ communities are more likely to have mental health conditions or misuse substances than those who are not LGBTQIA+. According to one survey, around 1 in 3 LGBQ adults experience mental health conditions, compared with 1 in 5 heterosexual adults.

Adults who are transgender are more likely to report psychological distress than the general population. In the survey, 40% of adults who are transgender reported that they experienced psychological distress, whereas only 5% of the general U.S. population reported the same.

The same survey also found that 40% of adults who are transgender have attempted suicide at some point during their lives, whereas less than 5% of the general U.S. population reported having attempted suicide.

One study also found that 15% of LGBQ adults had a substance or alcohol misuse disorder during the past year, whereas 8% of heterosexual adults reported the same.

There are several factors that contribute to LGBTQIA+ adults reporting higher instances of mental health conditions. These include stigma, oppression, and discrimination.

For example, after 16 states passed bans on marriage equality in 2004–2005, there was a more than 30% increase in mental health conditions among LGBQ people, compared with a 20% decrease in states that did not pass these bans.

Similarly, transgender people who live in states that do not have LGBTQIA+ friendly environments experience more discrimination. They are also more likely to have mental health conditions and suicidality.

LGBQ adults who live in communities that are more likely to discriminate and oppress those in LGBTQIA+ communities also have a reduction in their life expectancy. Specifically, some research estimates that, on average, their lives are 12 years shorter than those of LGBQ adults living in communities with less prejudice.

Transgender adults who live in LGBTQIA+ friendly states are less likely to have suicidality than those who live in states with oppressive and discriminatory environments.

LGBTQIA+ resources

To discover more evidence-based health information and resources for LGBTQIA+ individuals, visit our dedicated hub.

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There are several organizations that people can access to receive support and advice.

LGBTQIA+ youth

LGBTQIA+ youth resources include:

LGBTQIA+ adults

GLAAD have a resource list that has helpful links for adults who require legal or specialized support.

Some general resources for LGBTQIA+ adults include:

National hotlines provide free, confidential assistance from trained professionals. These are available 24 hours per day. They may benefit anyone with depression who wants or needs to talk about their feelings.

If anyone believes that a person is at immediate risk of suicide, they should call 911 or a local emergency number immediately. People should try to provide as much accurate information as emergency services require.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

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People who are LGBTQIA+ are more likely to develop mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. They are also more likely to consider and attempt suicide.

Young people can experience discrimination and abuse at home and at school. Adults may experience oppression in the wider community and may develop mental health conditions due to policies and state-wide discrimination.

People can contact LGBTQIA+ support services or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to gain support and advice.