LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans) young people in Northern Ireland are three times more likely to contemplate suicide than their non-LGBT+ peers, and are more likely to than LGBT+ teens in England, Wales and Scotland, new independent research by charity Just Like Us has found.
The research found that 82% of LGBT+ young people aged 11 to 18 in Northern Ireland have experienced suicidal thoughts and feelings, compared to 23% of their non-LGBT+ peers.
LGBT+ young people in Northern Ireland are more likely to have experienced suicidal thoughts and feelings than in England (67%), Wales (73%) or Scotland (79%).
Across the UK, LGBT+ young people are twice as likely as their non-LGBT+ peers to contemplate suicide.
The survey of 2,934 secondary school pupils (1,140 of whom were LGBT+) across the UK by Just Like Us, the charity for LGBT+ young people, found that the pandemic is disproportionately impacting the mental health of LGBT+ young people.
The study found that LGBT+ young people in the UK are more than twice as likely to worry daily about mental health – 55% of LGBT+ 11 to 18 year olds in the UK are worrying daily about their mental health, compared to just 26% of non-LGBT+ young people.
LGBT+ young people in the UK are also twice as likely to feel lonely, with 52% reporting they feel lonely every day, compared to 27% of non-LGBT+ young people.
One in four (25%) LGBT+ secondary school pupils in the UK are experiencing daily tensions in the place they are living, such as arguments with family, compared to just 15% of non-LGBT+ young people.
Half (48%) of secondary school pupils in the UK say they have received little to zero positive messaging at school about being LGBT+ at all in the last 12 months.
LGBT+ pupils feel far less safe at school, the research also found. Only 58% of LGBT+ young people in the UK have felt safe at school on a daily basis in the past 12 months, compared to 73% of non-LGBT+ pupils.
The data forms part of a larger report into inclusive education and the experiences of LGBT+ young people that charity Just Like Us is due to publish later this month, ahead of its annual initiative School Diversity Week on 21-25 June.
Chief Executive of charity Just Like Us, Dominic Arnall, has called for schools in Scotland to send a positive message of acceptance to their LGBT+ pupils, who are particularly struggling at this time.
Dominic Arnall, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity, says: “We very saddened to see so many LGBT+ youth have had suicidal thoughts and feelings – they need to hear from their schools, parents and carers that it’s OK to be themselves.
“LGBT+ school pupils are disproportionately struggling with mental health and feeling unsafe in school and at home – they desperately need to hear the positive message that it’s OK to be themselves.
“We really hope even more primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in Northern Ireland and across the UK will join us this year in taking part in School Diversity Week – a great way for schools to demonstrate to their pupils that they are able to be themselves.
“It's important that the pressures of this time are not passed on to schools who are already overburdened with work. Sign up to School Diversity Week at www.justlikeus.org and we will ensure you have everything you need to support your pupils.”
Primary schools, secondary schools and colleges can sign up now to take part in School Diversity Week – it’s free and you’ll receive a digital toolkit of resources for all key stages.
LGBT+ young people affected by this story can reach out for mental health support:
Childline for under 19s: 0800 1111
LGBT Foundation: 0345 3 30 30 30
Switchboard: 0300 330 0630