LGBTI & Mental Health

There are many reasons why we are holding the Hamilton Pride and Inclusion day. One of the drivers is that discrimination and exclusion are the key causal factors of LGBTI mental ill-health and suicidality.

We believe there is a lack of support and positive role models for those in regional LGBTI community. In addition to this, the sad fact is many in the LGBTI community have had to leave the Hamilton region due to their sexuality 

LGBTI people have significantly poorer mental health and higher rates of suicide than other Australians

Although most LGBTI Australians live healthy, happy lives, a disproportionate number experience worse health outcomes than their non-LGBTI peers in a range of areas, in particular mental health and suicidality. These disproportionately poor outcomes are found in all age groups of LGBTI people.

Discrimination and exclusion are the key causal factors of LGBTI mental ill-health and suicidality

Mental health:*

  • The mental health of LGBTI people is among the poorest in Australia.

  • At least 36.2% of trans and 24.4% of gay, lesbian and bisexual Australians met the criteria for experiencing a major depressive episode in 2005, compared with 6.8% of the general population.5 This rate soars to 59.3% of trans women (male to female) under 30 in a La Trobe University study

  • Lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians are twice as likely to have a high/very high level of psychological distress as their heterosexual peers (18.2% v. 9.2%). This makes them particularly vulnerable to mental health problems. The younger the age group, the starker the differences: 55% of LGBT women aged between 16 and 24 compared with 18% in the nation as a whole and 40% of LGBT men aged 16-24 compared with 7%. Results only begin to be similar across the population groups at age 65.8

  • More than twice as many homosexual/bisexual Australians experience anxiety disorders as heterosexual people (31% vs 14%) and over three times as many experience affective disorders (19% vs 6%). The rates are higher across any age group, country of birth, income level, area of residence or level of education/employment. Nearly 80% of LGBT respondents reported having experienced at least one period of intense anxiety in the 12 months prior to completing a 2011 survey, with the highest proportion of those experiencing frequent episodes of anxiety in this period being lesbian, bisexual and transwomen and transmen.

  • Where differentiated data is available, it indicates that rates of depression, anxiety and generally poor mental health are highest among trans and bisexual people, especially bisexual women.

  • Intersex adults show psychological distress at levels comparable with traumatized non-intersex women, e.g. those with a history of severe physical or sexual abuse.

Suicide and Self-Harm:*

• LGBTI people have the highest rates of suicidality of any population in Australia.

• 20% of trans Australians13 and 15.7% of lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians report current suicidal ideation (thoughts). A UK study reported 84% of trans participants having thought about ending their lives at some point.

• Up to 50% of trans people have actually attempted suicide at least once in their lives.

• Same-sex attracted Australians have up to 14x higher rates of suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers. Rates are 6x higher for same-sex attracted young people (20-42% cf. 7-13%).

• The average age of a first suicide attempt is 16 years – often before ‘coming out’.

• There is a lack of data on intersex people but overseas research and anecdotal evidence in Australia indicate that intersex adults have rates of suicidal tendencies and self-harming behaviour well above those of the general population.

• Indigenous LGBTI Australians, LGBTI migrants and refugees, LGBTI young people and LGBTI people residing in rural and remote areas are likely to be at particularly high risk of suicide, in line with tendencies of high risk identified in the population as a whole.

• There is increasing concern that older LGBTI Australians may also have a particularly high risk of suicide, with many having endured persecution, including legal condemnation and ostracism and fearing dependency on potentially discriminatory mainstream aged care services, especially as they are less likely to have children to care for them.

• Many LGBTI people who attempt suicide have not disclosed their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status to others, or to only very few people.

* Source (https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/bw0258-lgbti-mental-health-and-suicide-2013-2nd-edition.pdf?sfvrsn=2)