LGBTI PEOPLE HEALTH – THE 2020 UPDATE

This is the latest available update on LGBTI mental health in Australia

Although many LGBTI Australians live healthy and happy lives, research has shown that a disproportionate number experience poorer mental health outcomes. They also have higher risk of suicidal behaviours than their peers.

These health outcomes are directly related to experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse on the basis of being LGBTI people. The 2020 Snapshot of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention statistics for LGBTI People provides a snapshot of what is known of the current mental health and wellbeing outcomes of LGBTI people in Australia.

While Australian and international research provide evidence that demonstrate significant concern regarding mental health outcomes and suicidal behaviours among LGBTI people, it is vital to note that significant knowledge gaps still remain.  This is due to lack of inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status in population research[i] and data collection in mental health services[ii].  As data informs evidence-based policy, this exclusion has lead to inaccuracy in reporting and significant underestimates that has left LGBTI people relatively invisible in mental health and suicide prevention policies, strategies and programmes.

Australian national evidence on the health and well-being of LGBTI populations relies upon a growing but limited number of smaller scale studies that target LGBTI populations

Consequently, Australian national evidence on the health and well-being of LGBTI populations relies upon a growing but limited number of smaller scale studies that target LGBTI populations, or part thereof.  While uniquely valuable, these can have methodological issues relating to representative data collection and limited ability to provide a comprehensive data analysis that is therefore unable to represent a holistic picture of LGBTI people[iii].

‘LGBTI’ is often viewed as a single category about which can be spoken about in broad generalisations, however it is vital to understand that within ‘LGBTI’ there are several distinct, but sometimes overlapping, demographics each with their own distinct histories, experiences and health needs. Research that collapsed these separate groups into a single group for their analysis risks conflating and reaching conclusions that may not be representative of all groups. Where possible, we have noted when this may have occurred, and these statistics should be used with caution when representing the experience of groups that underrepresented (mainly Transgender and Intersex people)

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This document includes a range language of beyond that typically used by the National LGBTI Health Alliance. This is to directly reflect the terminology and classifications used by the various research papers used as source data in this document, such as the classification of age ranges, terminology used to describe gender, and descriptors and definitions of mental health concerns.  Across this research, there is often little uniformity of demographic information or definitions of mental health concerns that supports direct comparison between LGBTI populations and the general population.

This is not a comprehensive literature review

When considering data provided in this document it is important to note that this is not a comprehensive literature review, and we urge the reader to consider this broader context where adequately estimating the mental health outcomes and suicidal behaviours for LGBTI populations remains highly challenging.

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SUICIDIALITY

Suicide Attempts[1]

Compared to the general population, LGBTI people are more likely to attempt suicide in their lifetime, specifically:

  • LGBTI young people aged 16 to 27 are five times more likely
  • Transgender people aged 18 and over are nearly eleven times more likely
  • People with an Intersex variation aged 16 and over are nearly six times more likely
  • LGBT young people who experience abuse and harassment are even more likely to attempt suicide

Statistics for LGBTI Population

  • 16% of LGBTI[2] young people aged 16 to 27 reported that they had attempted suicide[iv]
  • 35% of Transgender people aged 18 and over[3] have attempted suicide in their lifetime[v]
  • 19% of people with an Intersex variation aged 16 and over had attempted suicide on the basis of issues related their Intersex status
  • 8% of Same-Gender Attracted and Gender Diverse young people between 14 and 21 years had attempted suicide, 18% had experienced verbal abuse, and 37% of those who experienced physical abuse[vii]
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Statistics for General Population

  • 3.2% of people (4.4% females; 2.1% males) aged 16 and over have attempted suicide in their lifetime; 0.4% of general population (0.5% females; 0.3% males) in the last 12 months[viii]
  • 1.1% of people (1.7% females; 0.5% males) aged 16 to 24 have attempted suicide in the past 12 months[ix]

Suicide Ideation

Compared to the general population, LGBTI people are more likely to have thoughts of suicide, specifically:

  • Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people aged 16 and over are over six times more likely
  • Transgender people aged 18 and over are nearly eighteen times more likely
  • People with an Intersex variation aged 16 and over are nearly five times more likely
  • LGBT young people who experience abuse and harassment are even more likely to have thoughts of suicide

Statistics for LGBTI Populations

  • 15.15% of LGBTI[4] people aged 16 and over report current thoughts of suicide in the past 2 weeks[x]
  • 41% of Transgender people and people with a Non-Binary gender aged 18 years and over report thoughts of suicide or self harm in the last 2 weeks[xi]
  • 60% of people with an Intersex variation aged 16 and over had thoughts about suicide on the basis of issues related to having congenital sex variation[xii]
  • 22% of Same-Gender Attracted and Gender Diverse young people between 14 and 21 years have thoughts of suicide, which increases to 30% for those who have experienced verbal abuse and to 60% who have experienced physical abuse[xiii]

Statistics for General Population

  • 13.3% of the general population (15% females; 11.5% males) aged 16 and over in Australia have had suicidal ideation in their lifetime; 2.3% of general population (2.7%  females; 1.8% males) in the last 12 months[xiv]
  • 3.44% of the general population (1.7% of males and 5.1% of females) aged 16 to 24 in Australia have had suicidal ideation in the past 12 months[xv]
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Self-Harm[5]

Compared to the general population, LGBTI people are more likely to have engaged in self harm in their lifetime, specifically:

  • LGBT young people are nearly twice as likely to engage in self-injury
  • Transgender people are six and a half times more likely
  • People with an Intersex variation are three times more likely
  • LGBT young people who experience abuse and harassment are even more likely to have self-harmed

Statistics for LGBTI Populations

  • 33% of LGBTI[6] young people aged 16 to 27 reported having self-harmed, 41% had thoughts of harming themselves[xvi]
  • 53% of Transgender people aged 18 and over[7] have self-harmed in their lifetime, 11% currently self-harming.[xvii]
  • 26% of people with an Intersex variation aged 16 and over have self-harmed on the basis of issues related to having a congenital sex variation, 42% have had thoughts about self harm[xviii]
  • 18% of Same-Gender Attracted and Gender Diverse young people between 14 and 21 years have self-harmed, which increases to 32% for those who have experienced verbal abuse, and to 54% for those who have experienced physical abuse

Statistics for General Population

  • 8.1% of people (8.7% females; 7.5% males) aged 16 and over have engaged in self-injury in their lifetime; and 1.1% of people (1.2% females; 1% males) in the past 4 weeks[xix]
  • 14.1% of people (16.6% females; 11.6% males) aged between 15 and 19; and 21.25% of people (24.4% females; 18.1% males) aged between 20 and 24 have engaged in self injury in their lifetime[xx]

This article was originally published by LGBTIQ HEALTH ORGANISATION AUSTRALIA

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2020 Report and Statistics

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