Existing research suggests that LGBTQ+ communities are at a higher risk of suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and self-harm compared to people who aren’t LGBTQ+.
In 2022, Samaritans responded to over 69,000 calls for help from people who spoke about gender identity or sexuality.
Suicide is complex and being LGBTQ+ is not a risk for suicide in itself. National suicide rates for LGBTQ+ communities aren’t available in the UK and Ireland, because sexual orientation and gender identity aren’t currently recorded on death certificates. However, a growing amount of global evidence points to a higher risk of suicidal behaviour and self-harm for LGBTQ+ people, and explores the lived experiences which may contribute to this.
It’s important to note that ‘LGBTQ+’ covers a range of different minoritised gender and sexual identities and everyone will have different lived experiences.
Experiencing discrimination or bullying based on your LGBTQ+ identity can cause you to feel trapped or isolated, which may lead to feelings of suicide. Research points to high rates of discrimination and victimisation in LGBTQ+ communities, and has connected homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying with suicidal behaviour.
LGBTQ+ people are at higher risk of experiencing mental ill-health, which is a known risk factor for suicide. Research has also pointed to inequalities in healthcare treatment among LGBTQ+ communities, which can cause people to receive inappropriate care or stop seeking help altogether.
A strong support network can be an important protective factor against suicide and loneliness. Experiencing rejection from parents or loved ones impacts many people in LGBTQ+ communities and can lead to isolation if no other positive support networks are in place.
We worked with 11 Lived Experience Advisors to identify what needs to change to prevent suicides for people in LGBTQ+ communities. We identified 5 key areas:
- Governments, health services and charities should make sure they aren’t discriminating against LGBTQ+ people
- Health services should work to meet LGBTQ+ people’s needs, and respond to people’s different identities and experiences
- Waiting lists for mental health services and gender identity care need to be shorter for everyone, and people should be able to be on multiple waiting lists at the same time
- Health services should make sure that people can access mental health support for as long as they need
- More funding needs be allocated for wellbeing and community organisations for and by LGBTQ+ people
We’re committed to breaking down barriers and making Samaritans more diverse and inclusive.
Find out more about our work with people with lived experience to identify some of these key areas for change.