The head of the royal commission into Victoria’s mental health system has described high rates of suicide among LGBTIQ people as “totally unacceptable”.
Chairperson Penny Armytage made the remarks to the commission on Wednesday.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people aged 16 to 27 are five times more likely to attempt suicide, figures show.
Transgender people over 18 are nearly 11 times more likely. Almost half of transgender young people report attempting suicide at least once.
LGBTIQ people currently have the highest rate of suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts than any other population group.
But the numbers are likely higher, gender and sexuality commissioner Ro Allen told the commission.
“We have very, very bad data collection around this,” Allen said.
“I remember going to funerals of young LGBTI people and families didn’t know they were queer. It certainly wasn’t recorded.”
High LGBTIQ suicide rates due to discrimination
Ro Allen said the high suicide rates were due to the compounded discrimination faced in daily life.
“We don’t wake up in the cot hating ourselves, it comes from somewhere,” the commissioner added.
“[It comes] from stigma about how we are labelled and identified, whether it’s through the media or through the recent postal survey which was a tsunami of attacks on our mental health.
“It’s not uncommon to just have abuse yelled at you. You never know whether that’s going to escalate into anything potentially violent.”
Allen said until we “reduce the stigma of being LGBTI, people won’t record that in their suicide stats.”
“Why don’t we ask about somebody’s sexuality and gender identity and intersex variation?” Allen said.
“We’re probably not going to choose to answer it if we don’t feel safe, but the fact that the question is there reduces the stigma.”
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
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