A CDC report published in February assessed significantly increased rates of feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and suicidality among “LGBQ+” high school students relative to their “heterosexual” counterparts.
The CDC’s “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” (YRBS) polled high school students had two categories for “sexual identity”: “heterosexual” and “LGBQ+.” The survey’s respondents classified their sexualities based on how they “identify” with the following options: “heterosexual,” “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual,” “questioning,” or “another non-heterosexual identity.”
The CDC promised to ask about “gender identity” in subsequent years’ assessments to collect data on high schoolers “who identify as transgender.”
According to the YRBS’s findings, “LGBQ+” high school students has more than double the rate experiencing poor mental health across the 30 days prior to their participation in the survey.
Among “heterosexual” students, 22 percent reported experiencing poor mental health across the previous month, against 52 percent of “LGBQ+” students.
When asked if they experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness across the previous year, 35 percent of “heterosexual” students answered in the affirmative in contrast to 69 percent of “LGBQ+” students.
The percentage of “heterosexual” students stating they had “seriously considered attempting suicide” during the previous year was 15 percent, with 45 percent of “LGBQ+” students reporting the same.
More acutely, 12 percent of “heterosexual” high schoolers said they had “made a suicide plan during the past years,” with 37 percent of their “LGBQ+” counterparts saying the same.
Six percent of “heterosexual” students claimed to have attempted suicide during the previous twelve months, against 22 percent of “LGBQ+” students.
One percent of “heterosexual” students reported being injured in a suicide attempt, with seven percent of “LGBQ+” students reporting the same.
The YRBS highlighted the increased rates of substance abuse and mental distress experienced by “LGBQ+” student relative to their “heterosexual” peers:
LGBQ+ students and those who have any same-sex partners were more likely than their peers to have used or misused all substances included in this report (i.e., ever used select illicit drugs, ever or current prescription opioid misuse, and current alcohol, marijuana, and electronic vapor product use). They were also significantly more likely to experience all forms of violence. The differences in terms of mental health, compared to their peers, are substantial. Close to 70% of LGBQ+ students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness during the past year and more than 50% had poor mental health during the past 30 days. Almost 25% attempted suicide during the past year.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning (LGBQ+) youth were substantially more likely to have experienced all forms of violence and had worse mental health outcomes than their heterosexual peers,” wrote the CDC in a fact sheet based on the YRBS’s findings.
The CDC emphasized worsening trends for high school students in the aggregate across many of its metrics of wellbeing in 2021 relative to previous years.
“Unfortunately, almost all other indicators of health and well being in this report including protective sexual behaviors (i.e., condom use, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, and HIV testing), experiences of violence, mental health, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors worsened significantly,” concluded the CDC in the YRSB’s executive summary.
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.