LGBTQ+ students with campus mental health services report fewer suicide attempts, still face barriers to care

Story at a glance

  • LGBTQ+ college students with access to mental health care services on their campus are far less likely to report a past-year suicide attempt than those without access, according to a new report published Wednesday by the Trevor Project.

  • The majority of LGBTQ+ college students surveyed by the group said their school offered mental health services to students, but accessing care was often difficult.

  • The report also found that students with access to LGBTQ-specific services through their college were less likely to report a past-year suicide attempt.

LGBTQ+ college students with access to mental health care through their school are far less likely to report a past-year suicide attempt than those without access to mental health supports, according to new research from The Trevor Project, a leading LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention organization.

Over the last year, one in three LGBTQ+ college students have seriously considered suicide, the group said Wednesday in a report, and 7 percent have attempted suicide. But when LGBTQ+ college students are able to access mental health services on their campuses, those numbers sink dramatically.

Students that reported having access to mental health supports through their school had 84 percent lower odds of attempting suicide in the past year, according to The Trevor Project report. The majority of LGBTQ+ college students surveyed by the group – 86 percent – said their school offered mental health services to students, but accessing care was often difficult.

America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

More than 30 percent of students said they did not seek mental health care from their school because they were uncomfortable doing so, while 29 percent said they were deterred by long waitlists. Another 17 percent said concerns about privacy had stopped them from accessing mental health services on their campus.

The Trevor Project report also found that LGBTQ+ students with access to LGBTQ+ student services through their college had 44 percent lower odds of attempting suicide in the past year compared to students without access.

Roughly six in ten LGBTQ+ college students said their campus had LGBTQ-specific services available to them, according to the report. Just over 40 percent of students with access to services like an LGBTQ+ community center at their school reported seriously considering suicide in the past year, compared with 30 percent of LGBTQ+ students without access.

Nearly 90 percent of students surveyed said their college was accepting of LGBTQ+ people, which was associated with the availability of LGBTQ-specific resources. Nearly half of LGBTQ+ college students who did not have access to services tailored for LGBTQ+ students reported that their campus was unaccepting of LGBTQ+ people, compared to just 6 percent of those who had access.

“While college environments offer a number of positive and protective factors for LGBTQ students, the reality is that suicide risk still very much persists,” Dr. Jonah DeChants, a research scientist at The Trevor Project, said Wednesday in a statement.

“We urge all colleges and universities to realize that access to mental health care services, as well as LGBTQ-specific student services, on college campuses is critical for ensuring the mental health and safety of their LGBTQ student body,” he said.

Prior research has found LGBTQ+ students face unique challenges on college campuses, and a survey of 1,000 undergraduate students in June found that 30 percent of LGBTQ+ students considered dropping out because of poor mental health.

Earlier this month, the nonprofit Campus Pride announced it had added 13 schools to its annual “Worst List” – a compilation of colleges and universities in the U.S. considered risky for LGBTQ+ students to attend – bringing the total to a record 193 campuses.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.