Conversion therapy and suicidality

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Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the U.S. among those age 10-34 and the 10th leading cause of death overall.

According to the CDC, high school students self-identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are 3 times more likely to have seriously considered suicide, more than 3 times as likely to have made a suicide plan, and 4 times more likely to have attempted suicide, as compared to their heterosexual peers.

Sexual minorities, like LGBT youth, experience distinct, chronic stressors, including victimization, prejudice, and discrimination, in addition to everyday or universal stressors experienced by other youth. Sexual minority stressors create a hostile and stressful social environment that disproportionately compromise LGBT youth's mental health and well-being.

A recent study found that attempts to change the sexual orientation of LGBT adolescents contribute to multiple health and adjustment problems in young adulthood. These include higher levels of depression and suicidal behavior, as well as lower levels of self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction. Study findings include:

  • Suicide attempts nearly tripled to 63% for LGBT young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and intervention efforts by third parties, as compared to LGBT young people who experienced no conversion therapy efforts by either parents or third parties.

  • High levels of depression more than tripled to 52% for LGBT young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and external sexual orientation change efforts by third parties.

Paloma Schultz