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Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations

The Bottom Line:

In recent years, suicide risk among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people has become a growing focus of public discussion and concern. While some of that visibility has been informed by solid research and facts, other aspects of the discussion have inadvertently contributed to misinformation about suicidal behavior in LGBT populations, potentially increasing the risk of suicide in vulnerable individuals.

The importance of public education about suicide cannot be overstated. When individuals and organizations talk about suicide safely and accurately, they can help reduce the likelihood of its occurrence; however, talking about suicide in inaccurate or exaggerated ways can elevate that risk in vulnerable individuals.

This second edition of Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations provides facts about suicide and LGBT people, as well as ways to talk about suicide safely and accurately—and in ways that advance vital public discussions about preventing suicide among LGBT people and supporting their health and well-being.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project, Johnson Family Foundation, and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. August 2017. "Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations." 2nd edition. MAP's Talking About LGBT Issues Series. (date of access).

Conversaciones sobre el suicidio y las poblaciones LGBT

En los últimos años, el riesgo de suicidio en personas lesbianas, gays, bisexuales y transgénero (LGBT) ha cobrado mayor atención en el debate y la preocupación del público. Si bien parte de esa visibilidad se basa en hechos e investigaciones sólidas, otros aspectos del debate han contribuido involuntariamente a generar información errónea acerca del comportamiento suicida en las poblaciones LGBT, lo que posiblemente aumenta el riesgo de suicidio en personas vulnerables.

No se debe subestimar la importancia de la educación pública en torno al suicidio. Cuando las personas y las organizaciones hablan del suicidio de forma segura y precisa, pueden ayudar a reducir la probabilidad de que ocurra; sin embargo, cuando se cometen exageraciones o inexactitudes al hablar del suicidio, se puede elevar el riesgo en personas vulnerables.

Esta segunda edición de Cómo hablar sobre el suicidio y las poblaciones LGBT trata sobre la realidad del suicidio y las personas LGBT. Ofrece maneras de hablar sobre el suicidio con seguridad y precisión, que buscan fomentar el debate público vital sobre su prevención en personas LGBT, y apoyar su salud y bienestar. .

Additional Resources

  • Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide (2011) (American Association of Suicidology; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; Annenberg Public Policy Center; Canterbury Suicide Project - University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand; Columbia University Department of Psychiatry;; Emotion Technology; International Association for Suicide Prevention Task Force on Media and Suicide; Medical University of Vienna; National Alliance on Mental Illness; National Institute of Mental Health; New York State Psychiatric Institute; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Suicide Awareness Voices of Education; Suicide Prevention Resource Center; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and UCLA School of Public Health, Community Health Sciences)
  • Suicide and Suicide Risk in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Populations: Review and Recommendations (Journal of Homosexuality, Volume 58, Issue 1, January 2011)
  • Safe and Effective Messaging for Suicide Prevention (Suicide Prevention Resource Center)

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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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