Native American LGBT+ youth are at a terrifyingly high risk of suicide: ‘There’s an urgent need to de-colonise systems’
LGBT+ Native American young people are more likely to be at risk of suicide, new data has warned.
New research from the Trevor Project shows that LGBT+ youth from American Indian and Alaskan Native backgrounds are 2.5 times more likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year, compared to their LGBT+ peers.
American Indian and Alaskan Native youth who reported facing discrimination were also at greater risk of suicide, but supportive families and LGBT-affirming schools can reduced the suicide risk by nearly 60 per cent.
LGBT+ American Indian and Alaskan Native youth are also significantly more likely to experience housing instability, food insecurity and foster care.
Nearly half of the American Indian and Alaskan Native LGBT+ youth identified as transgender, non-binary, or questioning their gender, while 20 per cent identified as Two-Spirit.
Need to ‘de-colonise’ systems for LGBT+ Native American youth.
Amy Green, director of research at The Trevor Project, said: “It is apparent that exposure to both LGBTQ-based stigma and racism has compounding effects and places American Indian/Alaskan Native youth who are Two-Spirit/LGBTQ at greater risk for suicide.
“Further, the disproportionality in reports of foster care, housing instability, and food insecurity highlights the devastating impact of historical oppression and trauma on American Indian/Alaskan Native youth.
“There is an urgent need to de-colonise systems that perpetuate the oppression of American Indian/Alaskan Native people.
“The Trevor Project will continue to advocate for intersectional programs and practices and increased investment in suicide prevention initiatives and research that specifically consider the unique needs of American Indian/Alaskan Native youth.”
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The Trevor Project added: “To reduce suicidality, there is not only a need to make existing programs and practices more affirming of AI/AN and Two-Spirit/LGBTQ identities, but also to include key individuals in the lives of these youth such as community leaders, family members, and youth themselves in the development of suicide prevention initiatives.
“Our research team is committed to the ongoing dissemination of data that allows Trevor and others to better understand and address the needs of these youth.
“Further, our crisis services team works 24/7 to provide culturally-informed and affirming support to youth in crisis over the phone, online, and through text.”
Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to seek support.
In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email [email protected] or [email protected] In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.