January 27, 2021 Network in the Know

Suicide Risk in LGBTQ Youth and the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Compared to heterosexual youths, the suicide rate in LGBTQ adolescents is greater.  One analysis (JAMA Pediatrics, 2018) compiled data from 35 previous studies involving 10 countries and nearly 2.4 million heterosexual youth and 113,468 LGBT youth, ages 12 to 20 years of age. The results indicated that LGBT youth were 3.5 to 5.87 times more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to attempt suicide.

Additionally, the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, revealed that 40 percent of high school students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or questioning (unsure of their orientation) have seriously considered suicide.

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened concerns over the risk of suicide in LGBTQ adolescents for a number of reasons:

  • The loss of positive social connections for LGBTQ youth as a result of school /community organization closings and the need for physical distancing.
  • Potential prolonged exposure to an unsupportive or abusive environment at home in cases when family members are opposed to a youth’s preferred gender identity.
  • Economic or housing instability as a result of youth or family job loss.
  • Increased anxiety over the health risks of the pandemic.

It is imperative that health care practitioners connect at-risk youth to behavioral health services, including telemedicine therapy. CDPHP has providers who specialize in treating LGBTQ youth and offer telehealth services. Please call the CDPHP Behavioral Health Access Center at 1-888-320-9584 if you need assistance with a referral.

Adele O'Connell
About the Author

Adele joined CDPHP in 2004 as an internal communications and event specialist. She then spent eight years coordinating the company’s community relations and corporate events program, in which capacity she worked with a host of non-profit organizations and co-chaired the CDPHP annual Charity of Choice campaign. Currently, she is a communications specialist and coordinator of corporate member engagement and serves on the boards of two local charities. Prior to CDPHP, Adele served as a legislative assistant for a trade association and as an acquisitions and developmental editor, specializing in educational and medical publishing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Rosemont College.

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