Canada: Coroner’s Office urges research on suicide in LGBT teens

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Office of the Chief Coroner in Ontario, Canada, released an annual report today in which they highlight the level of suicide among LGBT teenagers as a cause for concern.

In the Paediatric Death Review Committee report, it was noted that LGBT teens “experience a high degree of vulnerability to suicidal ideation and behaviour… approximately half of LGBT youth have thought about suicide, and they are over four times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBT peers.”

In response to this phenomenon, over 50 experts gathered in Toronto on 30 and 31 May for Canada’s first ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Two Spirit, Queer and Questioning Youth Suicide Prevention Summit’.

The Coroner’s report urges more research to be done into the subject in order “to develop evidence based prevention and intervention initiatives”.

“It’s certainly an emerging theme amongst adolescents and one we felt needed specific recognition,” Dr Dirk Huyer told the CBC.

“We’re taking steps to enhance the awareness of this amongst death investigators and that allows us to hopefully have better data to better understand [whether there is] a relationship between this issue and adolescent suicides.”

Julia McArthur of local LGBT youth group ‘The Other Percent’ said suicide was a serious problem, but one that could be addressed by ensuring inclusivity of LGBT teens.

“I think that if people start to learn that this is a normal variance on human gender identity, these youth will start to feel more included,” she said.

She pointed out that some schools had established gender neutral washrooms, which benefited gender questioning youth and sent them the message that they are accepted as they are.

Earlier this year a bill criminalising discrimination against transgender people was passed in Canada’s House of Commons, having gained crucial support from a small number of Conservative MPs.