"In addition to providing helplines, safe spaces, and emergency care, we need to uproot the wider societal and economic problems queer people find stacked against them."

There’s more to suicide prevention than crisis care. When we’re at our lowest, safety nets are crucial, but by tackling the systemic issues that affect queer people we can prevent more of us from thinking about suicide. 

The high rates of suicide in the our community aren’t directly caused by our identities; lesbian, gay, bi, or trans+ people aren’t born with greater proclivity to take their own lives. Rather the causes are numerous, complex, and connected to the broad systemic inequalities queer people face.

There is never a single reason why someone chooses to take their life, but it stands to reason that the unique problems LGBTQ+ people experience place us at higher risk. In this article we’ve tried to identify some of these deep-rooted inequalities in a mini-manifesto. In addition to providing helplines, safe spaces, and emergency care, we need to uproot the wider societal and economic problems queer people find stacked against them.

 


Healthcare

All people deserve quality affirming and affordable healthcare. When it comes to healthcare in the UK, there is a significant lack of accessibility for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Being denied basic healthcare is degrading and alienating.

Trans+ people in the UK spend years on waiting lists while battling gender dysphoria, all without access to necessary support services and spaces. There are simply not enough gender specialist services being provided to cater for demand, this leaves many gender nonconforming people feeling lost and neglected by the system as their mental wellbeing deteriorates.

See our factsheet A Guide to Trans Healthcare

What we need

More funding for NHS-provided trans healthcare
More LGBTQ+ inclusive training for healthcare professionals
More gender identity services
 


Housing

According to AKT, 24% of homeless young people identify as LGBTQ+. Many circumstances can lead to homelessness, but one of the most common is coming out at home, or in some cases being outed by others. Some young people might be kicked out, while others leave for their own safety. Either way, the choice between no home and an unsafe or abusive home is no way for a young person to live.

Young LGBTQIA+ people are at risk if they are sleeping on the streets. Having no safe space to call home makes them vulnerable to abuse, substance misuse and sexual exploitation. It can easily lead them to believe that no one cares about them and cause them to lose hope.

Homelessness is not limited to young people either. Job insecurity can affect anyone at any age. Some LGBTQIA+ people might experience employment discrimination. This might in turn lead to not being able to pay rent and bills which could lead to being evicted and left on the streets. As it is often said, many people are just one paycheck away from homelessness.

What we need

More provision for young homeless LGBTQ+ people
Better support for families of queer youth
Job support for young LGBTQ+ people
A greater number of LGBTQ+ shelters 


Education

It is no secret that LGBTQ+ people often experience bullying and discrimination at school. While often the perpetrators are other children, sometimes it is staff that are the problem or even parents.

There is often a lack of safe spaces for LGBTQ+ children at school. They might not feel safe at break time, whether in the playground or the common room, this is often when they are reminded that they are different. Many queer children spend their breaks in the library or in staff rooms where they can avoid bullies and if there are no staff that they feel comfortable talking to, this can have a significant impact. It is so important to provide teachers that students can trust and confide in, as well as an environment where teachers and pupils feel safe to come out and be who they are publicly.

While there has been an improvement in the way many schools approach LGBTQ+ identities, lives, relationships and sex, more must be done. In 2019 the UK govt released statutory guidance for relationships and sex education that included a requirement to include LGBTQ+ relationships in primary and secondary schools. This is a start, but we need to further affirm and support young queer people in their learning environment to prevent isolation, bullying, and loneliness.

What we need

Affirmative Pride groups in schools
More LGBTQ+ education in the curriculum (history, identities, etc)
More LGBTQ+ teachers and role models
Policies which are always inclusive of queer youth
LGBTQ+ inclusion training for staff


Community

For any marginalised folks, community is extremely important. To be around those who love and accept you for who you are, who share similar lived experiences and who will understand, is vital in order to not only survive, but to thrive.

Unfortunately many LGBTQ+ people experience rejection and loneliness. Some are rejected by friends and family when they come out and find themselves without any support. Some are living outside of big cities with no access to safe space and very few people who understand them. Others find a new community, but then experience discrimination or abuse, being made to feel worthless or unloved simply because of who they are.

It is important that wherever queer people find themselves, family units, social circles, workplaces, clubs or sports teams, there are steps taken to make it welcoming and inclusive of all individuals.

What we need 

More LGBTQ+ safe spaces in the UK both physical and virtual
Investment in community spaces for queer people
Family support groups to educate and raise awareness
LGBTQ+ awareness training for workplaces

 


Media

The media has always played a role in the mental wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community, and often not a positive one.

In the 1980s - 2000s, attacks on LGB people in the media were commonplace and we suffered severe underrepresentation in the media. In our current decade, the situation has improved somewhat for lesbian and gay people, but deteriorated for trans and gender nonconforming people, with regular attacks on their right to exist in major newspapers and online publications. 

The rise of social media has also changed nature of our community’s relationship with public discourse. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram allow direct attacks and harassment of LGBTQ+ people. Nowhere is this clearer that with trans and gender nonconforming people who are at the front face of a culture war which has seen them experience harassment, doxxing, and in many cases, driven from online spaces entirely. People with huge followings can use their platform to purposefully post hateful comments that are seen by millions. 

This isn’t just talk; it has a direct effect on the lives and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people. It can make them feel unable to leave their homes, and under assault from all angles. Sometimes it even translates into violence and abuse in the street, at work, or in the home..

Simply by being active on social media as an LGBTQIA+ person can make you vulnerable to abuse.

With trans lives being up for debate almost every day, there is no respite. It is no surprise that many trans+ people are struggling with their mental health.  

What we need

Zero tolerance for transphobia, homophobia, and biphobia in the media
More rigorous rules and regulations by social media companies regarding targeted harassment of LGBTQ+ folk
An end to “debates” around our rights to exist


Legislation

Progress for LGBTQ+ rights is being undermined by flip-flopping and indecision. The government’s commitment to LGBTQ+ rights has been questionable at best, and legislation that could help us has been shelved, delayed, or scrapped.

The most recent example of this is the conversion therapy ban. After four years of promises to ban conversion therapy, the government reneged on its pledges, and only u-turned after significant public backlash. It has now been stated that the conversion therapy ban will only protect lesbian, gay and bi cisgender people and will not protect trans+ people. This legislation is insufficient, and the discourse around it has been damaging to the wellbeing of a huge swathe of our community.

We need legislation to be passed quickly, and without toxic discourse. Any law should be thoroughly examined before it is passed by MPs, but consideration for LGBTQ+ wellbeing must be considered. Broken promises, extreme delays, and exclusionary tactics are unacceptable, and are leaving many in the community feeling drained and hopeless. 

The process for Trans people to be able to legally change their gender is already long and bureaucratic. Not to mention that non-binary is still not a legally recognised gender in the UK. The Gender Recognition Act (another piece of legislation tossed aside) desperately needs modification and modernisation.

What we need

Non-Binary to be legally recognised as a gender in the UK
A ban on conversion therapy for ALL LGBTQIA+ people
An LGBTQ+ affirmative government that makes queer people feel safe 
 


Sources & Extra Reading

Royal College of Nursing: Trans Suicide Prevention Toolkit

‘Terrible Time For Trans Youth:’ New Survey Spotlights Suicide Attempts — And Hope 

Why is the LGBTQ+ community disproportionately affected by mental health problems and suicide?

Suicide Risk and Prevention for LGBTQ Patients Brief

Running Scared? A Critical Analysis of LGBTQ+ Inclusion Policy in Schools

National Education Union: Supporting trans and gender questioning students

Support

Samaritans: Whatever you're going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. Available 24/7. Call 116 123.

Mindline TRANS+: Emotional and mental health support helpline for anyone identifying as trans, non-binary, gender variant, and their families, friends, colleagues and carers. Their phone line is open Mondays and Fridays, 8pm to midnight. Ring 0300 330 5468.

Switchboard LGBT :0300 330 0630 | Open 10am-10pm Everyday

LGBT Foundation: 0345 3 30 30 30 — LGBT Foundation is based in Manchester but offers country-wide support to LGBTQ+ people through its helpline.

LGBT HERO forums: A space for LGBTQ+ people to connect, seek advice and ask personal questions.