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LGBTQ+ youth with firearms in their homes are more likely to consider suicide: report

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As mass shootings weigh on LGBTQ+ young people, those who have a firearm in their home reported higher rates of considering and attempting suicide.

Having firearms in the home can severely impact the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth, the majority of whom are already living in fear of mass shootings.

About 40 percent of LGBTQ+ youth have a firearm in their home, according to a new report from the Trevor Project and Everytown for Gun Safety. Among those who are frequently around guns, 43 percent reported higher rates of seriously considering suicide within the past year, with 13 percent having higher rates of attempting suicide.

LGBTQ+ young people living in the South reported the highest rates of having a firearm in their home (48 percent), followed by those living in the Midwest (43 percent), West (37 percent), and Northeast (25 percent).

For those with firearms in the home, 48 percent said it is not stored in a locked place. Forty-six percent of youth who did not know if the gun was kept in a locked place have seriously considered suicide in the last year, compared to the 40 percent of those who knew the firearms were kept in a locked place.

"Behind every data point in this report, there is a real person whose life was put at risk because they were simply trying to live as their most authentic selves. We can't accept this," said Sarah Burd-Sharps, senior director of research at Everytown for Gun Safety. "It is well documented that putting time and space between a person in crisis and a firearm can reduce suicidal risk and save lives. If we, as a society want to address this glaring public health crisis, we have to start with the role that guns play in queer youth suicides."

LGBTQ+ youth are surrounded by firearms in a time where they are increasingly anxious about the threat of mass shootings. The report also found that 21 percent of LGBTQ+ young people reported that they or someone they know had been personally impacted by a mass shooting.

The alarming majority of LGBTQ+ youth, 87 percent, said they frequently worry that a mass shooting could happen in their community. LGBTQ+ young people in the South reported the highest rates of worrying about a mass shooting (90 percent), followed by those in the Midwest (88 percent), West (87 percent), and Northeast (85 percent).

LGBTQ+ youth who reported being impacted or knowing someone impacted by a mass shooting also reported higher rates of having seriously considered suicide in the past year (45 percent), and attempting suicide (16 percent).

Derrick Matthews, director of research science at The Trevor Project, said that “Pride Month should be a time for all LGBTQ+ people to celebrate our community freely, unapologetically and safely. However, these new data suggest that in the midst of these celebrations, a number of LGBTQ+ young people may also be worried about mass shootings."

"While harrowing, these data serve as a call to action to invest in more research on the impact that mass shootings and firearms have on LGBTQ+ young people," he continued. "Better understanding and addressing the connections between firearms, mass shootings, and mental health will better allow LGBTQ+ young people to experience the queer joy they deserve not only during Pride Month, but all year long.”

If you or someone you know needs mental health resources and support, please call, text, or chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or visit988lifeline.org for 24/7 access to free and confidential services. Trans Lifeline, designed for transgender or gender-nonconforming people, can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The lifeline also provides resources to help with other crises, such as domestic violence situations. The Trevor Project Lifeline, for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger), can be reached at (866) 488-7386. Users can also access chat services at TheTrevorProject.org/Help or text START to 678678.

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.