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Recent Legislation Targeting the Rights of Trans Individuals Deepens Concerns Around the Mental Health of LGBTQ Communities: Leading suicide prevention organization strongly opposes bills that can harm the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTQ people

April 26, 2023 – 5 min read


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NEW YORK (April 26, 2023) – As we grapple with numerous states across the country enacting harmful anti-LGBTQ legislation, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the nation’s leading suicide prevention organization, calls upon local legislators to reject anti-trans legislation and encourages people to rally around the LGBTQ community by asking their elected officials to enact laws supporting these individuals.

In the past few years, research has shed light on concerning trends for the LGBTQ community. According to the latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on data from 2021, LGBQ+ youth are more likely to experience all forms of violence and close to 70% of LGBQ+ students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness during the past year, up from 60% in 2015. Nearly one quarter – 22% – of LGBQ+ youth reported attempting suicide in 2021. 

Also, a national survey of over 27,000 transgender individuals ages 16 years and older in the U.S. found that: 81.7% reported having serious thoughts of suicide in their lifetime including 48.3% in the past year, and 40% reported attempting suicide in their lifetime, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Williams Institute. 

These alarming data underscore concerns about potentially negative impacts of the 450 anti-LGBTQ bills being introduced at the state level across the country, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The majority of these bills target transgender individuals. 

It's important to emphasize that it’s not an individual’s LGBTQ identity that elevates risk for suicide. It’s experiences of trauma, violence, discrimination, and marginalization that increase the risk of suicide for LGBTQ people – when experienced at the individual level as well as at the macro policy and culture level.

AFSP has released the following statement regarding recent anti-LGBTQ legislation from Chief Medical Officer Dr. Christine Yu Moutier, and Chief of Public Policy Laurel Stine, J.D., M.A.:

“The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention calls upon policymakers to consider the negative physical and mental health impact that can be brought on by laws that discriminate and harm the LGBTQ community, including recently introduced bills across the country specifically targeting the rights of transgender individuals. Our organization is dedicated to improving access to evidence-based LGBTQ-affirming physical and mental health care that in turn reduces stigma, harm and suicide risk. We take our responsibility to educate the public about mental health and suicide very seriously, especially when communities are at increased risk. 

Each one of us has an opportunity to be an ally of the LGBTQ community. In addition to AFSP funding LGBTQ research studies, we advocate for legislative initiatives that: increase data collection and analysis to better inform LGBTQ suicide prevention public policies and strategies, ensure access to LGBTQ-affirming physical and mental health care, and contribute to the overall safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ people

We ask lawmakers to reject bills that create inequalities for the LGBTQ community and support legislation that addresses existing health disparities, and remove barriers to quality, accessible, affordable and comprehensive healthcare for LGBTQ youth and adults.”

Statement from National Board Member Lisa Riley, LGBTQ leader advocate from the AFSP New Hampshire Chapter:

“Many recent legislative policies aim to limit access to gender-affirming health care for transgender individuals. This directly threatens the physical and mental health of our community and poses an increased risk for deterioration in mental health. You may think this does not impact you. However, we are your brothers, sisters, your neighbors, and your co-workers. For me and my family, allies have proven to be a crucial part of gaining and maintaining access to equitable healthcare. LGBTQ individuals need and deserve access to quality physical and mental healthcare and I, with AFSP, will continue to advocate for the fundamental human rights to health and safety.”

Ongoing Efforts

AFSP funds research to better understand the experiences and suicide risk of LGBTQ people and supports public policies at the federal and state levels that improve mental health and reduce suicide risk for LGBTQ populations. 

Stemming from our national policy position on LGBTQ communities, we work with local AFSP chapters to support these communities by opposing restrictions on access to gender-affirming care, supporting bans on the practice of conversion therapy, opposing restrictions on discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools, supporting efforts to increase data collection of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) at the time of death, and enlisting local volunteers to prioritize opposing harmful bills when meeting with state and local public officials.

We also encourage media to consider these Safe Reporting Guidelines to ensure effective suicide prevention messaging and to increase help-seeking when covering this and other topics related to suicide.

Take Action

For those looking to play a role in reducing the likelihood of suicide and promoting wellbeing for the LGBTQ community, we encourage you to take action to:

  • Increase family acceptance and affirmation of a person’s LGBTQ identity
  • Reduce anti-LGBTQ stigma and prejudice
  • Reduce bullying, violence, and other forms of victimization
  • Increase access to LGBTQ-affirming physical and mental health care
  • Increase legal protections from discrimination

Please contact your local chapter and sign up as an AFSP volunteer advocate to learn more about how you can help.

Additional Resources

Resources on how to help LGBTQ populations with mental health and suicide prevention, visit

  • A 60-minute education presentation that provides insight on suicide, research on prevention, and what people can do in their communities to save lives. This presentation discusses the stressors that LGBTQ people face, and how these contribute to a higher suicide attempt rate among this population. 
  • A full-day conference hosted by local AFSP chapters to raise awareness about LGBTQ suicide risk, bring research findings to the attention of professionals and the public, and explore strategies for LGBTQ suicide prevention in local communities.
  • A program that connects those who have lost a loved one to suicide with trained volunteers who are also suicide loss survivors. Within this program we connect loss survivors to volunteers of similar identity and loss experience, including for LGBTQ people and their loved ones.


The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, including those who have experienced a loss. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through public education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, with a public policy office in Washington, DC, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states including Puerto Rico, with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Media Contact: Senior Vice President of Public Relations, [email protected]