Sexual Orientation and Suicide Attempts

Posted on: 02/18/20 3:11 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Many of you saw headlines about the number of young people identifying as LGBTQ doubling in the last decade and attempted suicide rates four times higher than their heterosexual peers. This week I’ll be unpacking those numbers, but more importantly… how we should respond.

The American Academy of Pediatrics just posted a brand new study looking at the disparities among US adolescents from 2009 to 2017 (which are the newest numbers they have from the CDC Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance data, something I’ve written to you about before). The bottom line:

  • The proportion of adolescents who did not identify as strictly heterosexual nearly doubled, from 7.3% in 2009 to 14.3% in 2017 (and some studies reveal that 14% number grows to about 20% with 18-34-year-olds)
  • 20.1% of students who did not identify as heterosexual attempted suicide in 2017, where only 5.9% of those who identify as heterosexual did (not a significant change from previous year’s numbers, actually a few points lower).

Think about that. One in five students identifying as LGBTQ+ attempt suicide.

The first thing I noticed when I read this study was that these suicide numbers are actually low compared to suicide attempts of young people who identify as transgender.

Tomorrow (Thursday) I’ll be posting a brand new article on titled, Mom, I Want to Be a She: four steps to consider if your child announces they are transgender. In that article I’ll be sharing several studies, including this one from UCLA, (which was conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality). In that study researchers found that 41 percent of transgender persons attempted suicide compared to 4.6% of the overall U.S. population who report a lifetime suicide attempt, and if they’re bullied, harassed or rejected by family… those numbers go up to over 50%.

Let those numbers sink in for a moment.


This is why it’s so important for us to think about our response.

Look for that article tomorrow on

And if you don’t already subscribe to our PARENTING HELP articles, subscribe now—it’s free. (or if you received this blog post in your inbox, scroll down to the very bottom right and click on where it says “update your subscription preferences” and you can add the PARENTING HELP articles and many of our other FREE options to what you receive.

One Reply to “Sexual Orientation and Suicide Attempts”

  1. Jonathan, I have heard you speak before at my church- CCC in Carmichael. I am a teacher at Visions in Education Charter School, with 9th-12th graders. We are being forced to offer 9th graders a course by Cardea Services, which told us teachers that “LGBT and Transgender students don’t commit suicide because of the lifestyle- they do because of harassment and bullying!” Yet I have heard that even in so-called LGBT-friendly countries the suicide rates are just as high. How do I respond to the misinformation that these people are trying to indoctrinate kids and even us teachers with?

Comments are closed.