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Suicidality & Eating Disorders Among LGBTQ Youth 2018: A US Study

A new national survey of LGBTQ youth found that a majority of those surveyed have been diagnosed with an eating disorder. Even more shocking, half of the LGBTQ youth surveyed who have not been diagnosed suspect they have an eating disorder.

The disturbing results were part of a new national survey, designed to better understand how LGBTQ youth are affected by eating disorders, and was conducted by The Trevor Project, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)  and Reasons Eating Disorder Center. The results were released in conjunction with National Eating Disorders Association Awareness Week, held this year between Feb. 26 and March 4 with the theme “Let’s Get Real.”

The results illustrate the need for increased support for this community. Of the LGBTQ youth surveyed, 54% of the participants indicated that they had already been diagnosed with an eating disorder. Of those diagnosed with an eating disorder, 88% have considered suicide.

“We were stunned by these results,” said Amit Paley, The Trevor Project’s CEO and Executive Director. “We need to do far more to help the alarming number of LGBTQ youth living with eating disorders and struggling with thoughts of suicide. We are grateful to partner with NEDA and Reasons Eating Disorder Center to shed light on this public health crisis and help save more LGBTQ lives.”

“We are honored to partner with the Trevor Project on this critical survey,” said Claire Mysko, CEO of NEDA. “The results make it clear that troubling numbers of LGBTQ youth are affected by eating disorders and self-harm. Together, we are working to raise awareness and put life-saving resources into the hands of those in need. It's time to get real about these issues and ensure that everyone has access to the support they deserve.”

The first-of-its-kind survey includes a sample of 1,305 self-identified LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 24 from across the country. The report shows:

  • 54% of LGBTQ youth respondents reported having been diagnosed with an eating disorder compared to 5% of the heterosexual peers.
  • Trans youth who identify as straight are the most at risk, with 71% of those having been diagnosed with an eating disorder, anorexia being the most common.

There is a dangerous overlap in the consideration of suicide and eating disorders, with 58% of LGBTQ youth respondents who have been diagnosed with an eating disorder having considered suicide.
Stigma and stereotypes, especially amongst LGBTQ youth, make this a hard issue for some to talk about and seek help for. The goal of NEDAwareness Week 2018 is to bust myths, elevate marginalized voices, and reach those in need with appropriate support and resources.