LGBTQ youth are at significantly greater risk of suicide than their heterosexual and cisgender peers: 33% of LGB youth have attempted suicide in comparison to 7% of youth in general, and 47% of trans youth have thought about suicide in the past year alone.
ECHRT hosted experts from across Canada and the United States for the first ever LGBTQ Youth Suicide Prevention Summit in Canada. Participants included leading academics and researchers, educators, social service providers, medical professionals, coroners and medical examiners, LGBTQ and Aboriginal community leaders, and public policy developers.
The Summit culminated in the drafting of twenty recommendations for the prevention of suicide among LGBTQ youth in Canada, which are enumerated in the report released today. “This report,” said Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of ECHRT, “represents a significant step toward ending the tragic and entirely unnecessary loss of so many precious lives. Today, we call on all levels of government to implement these recommendations as part of a critically needed national action plan to end youth suicide.”
Kennedy also announced the launch of a new campaign to provide education and resources on LGBTQ youth suicide prevention to parents and school communities. Nancy Campana added, “As a family that has had to face one of the most excruciating losses any family can imagine, the death of our dear son Rocky, we are looking forward to being an integral part of sharing our story and making sure that both parents and youth have the knowledge and resources needed to help them in times of crisis.”
“Rocky was a shining star, an achiever and proud to be gay. He had everything in life to live for including a high profile new job and a family he adored and that supported him endlessly with great pride. It is now apparent that Rocky suffered from depression. We understand that if this scenario is possible in our family it is a risk for any family with an LGBTQ youth.”
The first recommendation of the report highlights the need to recognise and address the vast diversity of LGBTQ youth experiences across the country. “This intersectional approach is vital in supporting the most at risk individuals,” noted Jeremy Dutcher, co-chair of the Wabanaki Two Spirit Alliance and an attendee of the Summit. “Egale has made working with Aboriginal and Two Spirit organisations on the challenge of LGBTQ youth suicide a major priority. Given the extremely high rates of suicide among Aboriginal people, especially those who are victimised and targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the need for these recommendations to be implemented is paramount.”