Quarantining as a result of the coronavirus may have a particularly negative effect on LGBTQ youth.
A new report from The Trevor Project – the world’s largest LGBTQ suicide prevention charity – has highlighted the increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts among queer people during social-distancing restrictions.
We already know that LGBTQ people face higher risk of homelessness, abuse at home and struggles with mental health, and being cut off from vital support systems like community centres or ‘chosen families’ could intensify these issues.
As a result, helplines like The Trevor Project have seen a steep increase in the number of LGBTQ youth who have been reaching out.
“The COVID-19 global pandemic has the potential to exacerbate these ongoing concerns and to create new, unique problems for LGBTQ youth,” says Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project.
“We know that positive social connections are vital for suicide prevention and we are hearing from an increased number of LGBTQ young people who no longer have access to their usual support systems.”
While young people are believed to have the lowest mortality rates from COVID-19, the report details how the combination of physical distancing, economic hardship and anxiety as a result of the pandemic can have serious consequences.
There are also concerns over LGBTQ youth who are isolating with parents or family members who express homophobic or transphobic views, which can force them back in the closet or cause emotional trauma.
But while many young LGBTQ people may be cut off from the positive, identity-affirming social interactions they experience at school or with friends, The Trevor Project highlights that safe spaces can still be found online.
“It’s critical to remember that physical distancing does not have to mean social isolation,” says Paley.
“Do all you can to stay connected with your friends, family, or chosen family. If you have access, try using the Internet to contact loved ones or to find affirming community online, like on TrevorSpace.”
LGBTQ people experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts can contact The Trevor Project via phone or text chat for advice and support.