The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer groups of people are by far the most controversial lot in the world today. Society has placed them under a stereotype that is far from flattering. consequently, there has been an increase in depression and suicide in the LGBTQ society.
This comes as no surprise as these set of people has a sexual identity that is unconventional. Although the LGBTQ Community is slowly gaining momentum in being recognized and accepted in the world, the stigma and negative stereotypes remain.
The Survival of these communities in a world that is most intolerant of their sexual values can be challenging and unbearable for some of these individuals and can pose a threat to their mental health, which often includes depression and suicide.
STATISTICS OF DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gay and bisexual youths are more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. About 29% of these youths attempted suicide at least once, while only 6% of heterosexual youths made suicide attempts.
Based on data from a 2015 national youth risk behavior survey, The CDC also reported that a vast majority of LGB students were susceptible to violence resulting from bullying, harassment, and physical assault including dating/sexual violence.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration carried out a National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2015 and found that LGTBQ individuals were more susceptible to substance abuse and mental illness that includes major depressive episode (MDE) than their heterosexual counterparts.
The research also pointed out that one in three LGBTQ individuals had mental illness in 2015, while only one in five heterosexual individuals suffered from mental health issues.
According to another study, LGBTQ adolescents are at a higher risk of exhibiting depressive symptoms compared to heterosexual adolescents. The adolescents reported an increase in depressive symptoms from 11th grade to three years of post-high school. The researches linked these symptoms with family dissatisfaction, cyberbullying and lack of adequate medical care.
The U.S transgender survey conducted by the National Centre for Transgender Equality(NCTE) revealed the alarming rate of different types of discrimination suffered by transgender and other gender non-conforming people which accounts for depression and suicidal tendencies in these individuals.
According to the survey, about 40% of the participants have attempted suicide in their lifetime which is relatively lower compared to less than 5% of the whole U. S population that was reported to have attempted suicide. They also reported experiencing severe psychological distress in the month before they took the survey.
WHY IS DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE PREVALENT IN THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY
The disturbing rate of mental health issues that includes depression and suicide in the LGBTQ Community which is even more pronounced in LGBTQ youths, has been associated with discrimination, homophobia, isolation, and familial rejection.
A majority of LGTBQ individuals have a strained relationship with their parents and families. Some of them are even completely estranged from their loved ones. The root of love and human bonding is embedded within an individual’s family especially the parents.
When this love and bond becomes lacking, it is wont to affect a person psychologically to a great extent. Rejection from parents and families may have a negative impact on the well being of LGTBQ people.
While some have openly expressed their sexual identity to their families and got unpleasant reactions, some are in the constant fear of coming out open with their sexual identities for fear of being rejected by those they hold dear to their hearts.
This serves to fuel anxiety and depressive symptoms. Constant shaming and the use of derogatory statements from parents, friends, and families can lead to the use of hard substances such as drugs, which inevitably leads to addiction, overdose, depression or even suicide.
Cyberbullying, harassment, communal, cultural and societal discrimination remains a leading cause for depression and suicide amongst LGBTQ individuals, with a majority reporting devastating unfriendly environmental and human conditions at school, offices, religious centers, restaurants and even in Healthcare centers.
There have been disturbing reports of LGBT youths being maltreated at school by peers because of their sexual identity. Some have lost their jobs while some have to bear the brunt of being intimidated and harassed daily because of their peculiarity.
Some healthcare practitioners are biased to those that identify with LGBT and often deny them of adequate healthcare due to the physician’s religious, personal or cultural beliefs. All of these contribute to the mental health and well being of LGTBQ people.
Due to the societal stereotype placed on the LGBTQ population, Most of them find themselves becoming isolated and lonely as heterosexuals often do not want to be associated with a societal or communal misfit. And even if they do make friends, they find it difficult being themselves around them.
The irony of this is that even within the LGBTQ Community, these discriminations exist. Some Gay people are accused of “straight-acting” which is defined as not exhibiting the mannerisms of being gay and are looked down on as misfits.
There is also the issue of skin color discrimination combined with LGBTQ stigma. LGBTQ people who have a particular skin color face more additional challenges that makes their lives difficult and places their mental health at risk. They are denied access to basic human rights and cannot have free social interactions without being subjected to ridicule.
LIMITING SUICIDE AND DEPRESSION RISKS IN THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY
It is a well-established fact that the root of depression and suicide in the LGBTQ Community lies in being exposed to stressors that stem from stigmatization as a sexual minority group commonly referred to as “minority stress”. what is the future of the LGBT community?
Is it possible to create a wholesome atmosphere and environment for LGBTQ people to live in, without the risks of antagonism? The following, if adopted, can limit the rate of depression and suicide among the LGBT community:
- Acceptance by family, parents, and friends which includes treating them without any form of bias or disrespect to their gender or sexual identity.
- A strong supportive social network that includes LGBTQ friends, and a heterosexual network of people(close friends or family) that are open to accepting and tolerating them without bias.
- Access to quality medical care without being exposed to prejudice from health workers and practitioners.
- Increased awareness that advocates for the rights of the LGBTQ Community.
- Increased awareness about the LGBTQ community that is targeted at harmonizing views and the effects that discrimination and victimization have on the LGBTQ community.