ALMOST half of all gay and transgender youngsters have considered suicide, recent figures have revealed.
Research from a leading charity suggests that young people who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety than their peer group and face increased levels of discrimination and disadvantage.
A study from Youth Chances claims a mental health crisis is underway, reporting that 44 per cent of LGBT youngsters have considered suicide, with more than half of those surveyed (52 per cent) saying they have self-harmed.
North-East LGBT advocate Emma Roebuck, of GADD (Gay Advice Darlington and Durham), has called for cultural change and urged young people to access the support they need.
Ms Roebuck said: “These figures are unsurprising and probably to do with the fact that many people still don’t feel accepted and are marginalised.
“Many feel unable to come out, and when they do, they are targeted because they do not fit in.
“They have to balance external pressures with the internal and coming to terms with themselves in a society that sees normal as being heterosexual – it has an impact.
“As children growing up, they are faced with the message that you’re expected to get married and have kids and the homophobia that tells them it is wrong to be who they are.
“They may see someone on television talking about it being wrong to be gay and that speaks volumes, especially if they have their parents sat next to them agreeing.
“Those messages come through constantly and they are never really undone.”
She added: “There needs to be cultural change. There’s a long road to go down but we need to go further.
“It needs to start before school, so that by primary school children know same sex relationships are common place rather than exceptional and schools need to take the issue seriously and do more work around bullying.”
She advised LGBT youngsters to report homophobia and get support, saying: “If you are the victim, report it.
“If you do not feel strong enough, find someone who is – go to organisations like GADD or their equivalent and we will help.
“Life is a struggle enough coming to terms with yourself without having to deal with pressures from the outside world too.
“It is a long road to travel but we will get there eventually.”