The chair of the royal commission into the mental health system in Victoria, Australia, has described the high rate of suicide for LGBTI people as ‘totally unacceptable’.
Chairperson Penny Armytage condemned the high rates of suicide, especially in young people, to the commission on Wednesday (17 July).
Figures show LGBTI people between the ages of 16 and 27 are five times more likely to attempt suicide, transgender people over 18 are nearly 11 times more likely, and intersex people over 16 are nearly six times more likely.
Suicide rate likely to be higher
Gender and sexuality commissioner Ro Allen told the commission the numbers are likely to be higher than the data already suggests. LGBTI people currently have the highest rate of suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts than any other population group.
Allen said: ‘We have very, very bad data collection around this. I remember going to funerals of young LGBTI people and families didn’t know they were queer; it certainly wasn’t recorded.’
Yet Allen was careful not to suggest a causation between sexuality and gender identity with the high suicide rates.
They added: ‘We don’t wake up in the cot hating ourselves, it comes from somewhere.
‘[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.’
Authorities used the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, held in 2017, to gauge public support for equal marriage. Public debate around the law change was incredibly hostile towards LGBTI people. Following the vote, same-sex marriage became legal in Australia at the end of 2017.