US: Just One Accepting Adult Can Save an LGBTQ Young Person's Life


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS) highlights high rates of adverse mental health indicators among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) students, including increased depressive symptoms, increased rates of seriously considering suicide, and increased rates of attempted suicide (Johns et al., 2019; Kann et al., 2018). According to the minority stress model, mental health disparities among LGBTQ youth result from increased experiences of discrimination and rejection from others (Meyers, 2003). It is hypothesized that increased support from others can serve as a protective factor, decreasing the risk for negative mental health outcomes among LGBTQ youth. Previous research has found a link between support from others and reduced suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth (Goodenow et al., 2006). However, that research was conducted with a sample of approximately 200 youth and focused solely on the role of support from adults at school on youth who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. This brief draws from The Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health (The Trevor Project, 2019) to examine the impact of acceptance from multiple types of adults on reducing suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth. Using data from thousands of respondents, this research shows that youth with at least one accepting adult were significantly less likely to report a suicide attempt.

LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. Nearly 80% of youth who completed The Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health reported disclosing their sexual orientation to at least one adult. Among those who disclosed to at least one adult, 79% had at least one adult who was accepting of them. Over one-quarter of LGBTQ youth who did not have at least one accepting adult in their life reported attempting suicide in the past year compared to 17% of those with at least one accepting adult. The positive impact of acceptance from at least one adult on past year suicide attempt was statistically significant (OR=.60, p<.001). Importantly, this analysis also controlled for the effects of race/ethnicity, age, and gender identity on suicide attempts in the past year. Read more via the Trevor Project