LGBTQ+ Youth


Being different is really hard. Feeling like you are disappointing the people you love because you are different is even harder.

When you are LGBTQ+ it can feel like your family and friends don’t understand you and are disappointed in you for being different. You might not even fully understand yourself. It’s not easy to figure out who you are and what you want for yourself when you are trying to live up to other people’s expectations.

There are also so many different gender identities and sexual orientations that it can be really confusing to determine how you identify, much less embrace your identity when it comes with added obstacles.

While the LGBTQ+ community is a vibrant, powerful force that is making strides every day to eliminate inequalities, there are still a few extra challenges that come along with being LGBTQ+. With these challenges added on top of the other difficulties life throws at you, it can become pretty overwhelming. Sadly, some people don’t realize they have options and that there are things they can do to live happier lives. Because of this, LGBTQ+ young people are more likely to attempt suicide than straight peers.

It is very important that you know that you’re not alone. There are people that care about you. Even if your family and friends don’t seem to get it, there are people who have gone through a lot of the same things you have and who want to make things better for you.

Challenges Experienced By LGBTQ+ Youth

Many LGBTQ+ teens and young people:

• Are terrified of coming out to family and friends

• Wish they knew how to find LGBTQ+ friends and people to date

• Go to schools that don’t provide all of the resources they need

• Work at places that don’t have LGBTQ+ inclusive policies

• Have to deal with harassment, bullying, or violence

• Aren’t sure how to access health services that are accepting and knowledgeable about LGBTQ+ health issues

• Struggle with mental illnesses and thoughts of suicide

• Don’t know where to find help

Depression, Anxiety, And Suicide

According to the CDC, 90% of the people who die by suicide have a mental illness – such as depression or anxiety – or substance abuse problem at the time of their death.

Depression, anxiety, and mood disorders are common in the LGBTQ community. One reason for this is the stress LGBTQ people face because of prejudice and discrimination; like family rejection, bullying, harassment, and violence. These experiences cause low self-esteem, isolation, and negative sexual and gender identity. If those feelings last for a long time, they can grow into anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.

Many people use alcohol and drugs to try to avoid their thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse usually end up adding to feelings of pain, guilt, and shame.

Sometimes people think that taking their lives is the only way to stop their pain. But most people (even those with the most severe cases of depression, anxiety, and drug or alcohol abuse) can get better with treatment.

We know that at times things can look really bad, hopeless and like nothing will ever get any better.  But it can and it will!  You just have to stop, take a breath and reach out to someone who cares because they are out there and they will help you.


  1. Grant JM, Mottet LA, Tanis J, Harrison J, Herman JL, Keisling M. Injustice at every turn: a report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; 2011.
  2. Hatzenbuehler ML, Keyes KM, Hasin DS. State-level policies and psychiatric morbidity in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations. Am J Public Health. 2009;99(12):2275–2281.
  3. Hatzenbuehler ML, McLaughlin KA, Keyes KM, Hasin DS. The impact of institutional discrimination on psychiatric disorders in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: a prospective study. Am J Public Health.2010;100(3):452–459.
  4. Ryan C, Russell ST, Huebner D, Diaz R, Sanchez J. Family acceptance in adolescence and the health of LGBT young adults. J Child Adolesc Psychiatr Nurs. 2010;23(4):205–213.
  5. Blosnich JR, Bossarte RM, Silenzio VM. Suicidal ideation among sexual minority veterans: results from the 2005–2010 Massachusetts behavioral risk factor surveillance survey. Am J Public Health. 2012;102 Suppl 1:S44–47.

When To Get Help

Please tell someone you trust or a doctor if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Thinking about, talking about or planning suicide 1
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol, especially if you increase your use or change drugs 1
  • Anxiety, restlessness, and/or feeling overwhelmed 1
  • Recklessness or high risk-taking behavior 1
  • Frequent anger 1
  • Feeling trapped or like there is no way out 1
  • Feeling no sense of purpose or unmotivated 1
  • Hopelessness or feeling like there is nothing to live for 1
  • Withdrawing from your family, friends, work, school, and/or activities you used to enjoy 1
  • Stress from prejudice and discrimination (family rejection, harassment, bullying, violence) 2
  • Feeling lonely or like there is no one you can talk to 2
  • Sleep problems (either too much or too little) 3
  • Unusual appetite that results in noticeable weight loss or gain 3
  • Feeling like no one would care if you are gone or like it would just be easier for everyone if you were gone 4


  1. These warning signs were compiled by a task force of expert clinical-researchers and ‘translated’ for the general public.
  2. Haas, A. P., Eliason, M., Mays, V. M., Mathy, R. M., Cochran, S. D., D’Augelli, A. R. . . . Clayton, P. J. (2011). Suicide and suicide risk in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations: Review and recommendations. Journal of Homosexuality58(1), 10–51.
  3. DSM-IV Criteria for Major Depressive Disorder
  4. Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Where to Get Help

Crisis Help

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. 1-866-488-7386.

The GLBT National Help Center provides peer-support and resource information to people with questions regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity. They operate three national hotlines: the GLBT National Hotline, the GLBT National Youth Talkline, and the SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline. They also offer online peer support chat and an extensive database of LGBTQ resources. 1-800-246-7743.

The Trans Lifeline is dedicated to the well being of transgender people. They run a hotline staffed by transgender people for transgender people. Trans Lifeline volunteers are ready to respond to whatever support needs members of the trans community might have. 1-877-565-8860.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States.  1-800-273-8255.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center provides information on mental health facilities and prevention efforts in your state.

The Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.

Additional Resources

Coming Out Resources

Resources to Share with Your Family and Friends

Mental Health Resources  

Medical and Sexual Health Resources  

Substance Abuse and Addiction Resources 

Anti-Violence Resources (violence/harassment/domestic abuse)

Legal Resources

Homelessness Resources


Employment Resources

Welcoming Religious Communities 

Local LGBTQ Social and Recreational Resources

Stories From Other Survivors