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Suicide in the counselling room

LGBTQ people are, sadly, statistically at higher risk of suicide.

Did you know?

46% of trans people had suicidal thoughts in the last year.
31% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people who aren’t trans had suicidal thoughts in the last year.

Stats from 2018 Stonewall Report: LGBT in Britain - Health Report

This is compared to the general population where:

1 in 5 (20%) think about suicide in their lifetime.

Stats from Grassroots Suicide Prevention

In my experience as a counsellor many clients (particularly those who are LGBTQ) can be very scared of talking about suicide.

Trans and non-binary clients can fear their counsellor ‘outing’ or misgendering them if their counsellor were to break confidentiality.

Due to our heteronormative and cisnormative society, LGBTQ people are statistically at higher risk of suicide.

If we look back over history at rights and laws we can see how LGBTQ people have been discriminated against by the government and big organisations.

It’s no wonder why that the LGBTQ community can often distrust professionals, such as counsellors.

Here’s a summary of just some of the things that have happened in history in England.

  • 1980s AIDS crisis and attitudes towards gay men, blood donation bans

  • 1988 to 2003: Section 28 which stated 'a local authority shall not: intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality; promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.'

  • Homosexuality was classified by WHO as a mental illness until 1992

  • Transgender people were not protected in UK equality law until 2010

  • Same sex couples could not marry until 2015

  • Transgender health issues were classified by WHO as mental illness until 2019

A pretty horrific list! And this is not even mentioning all the hate LGBTQ people continue to experience today.

What can you do, as a counsellor?

If you are a counsellor reading this, I wonder how many of your clients have spoken up about suicidal thoughts.

How confident do you feel talking about suicide with LGBTQ clients?

Is there anything you can do in your practice to help create a space for more LGBTQ clients to open up about these frightening thoughts?

Have you thought about clients how you might take practical steps to protect trans and non-binary clients who might use different names and pronouns in different situations? What changes you might need to make to your contracting and forms?

How can you make your counselling work more inclusive and help LGBTQ clients feel safer to talk to you about suicide?

Have you thought about what resources you might share with clients that are LGBTQ friendly?

How can I help you?

Having completed the Suicide First Aid training in ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and with a background in working as a mental health advocate, I have experience talking with clients about suicidal ideation on an almost daily basis.

I want to share this with you and help make your counselling practice a safer space for clients to open up about suicide.

Ready to learn more?

Learn more about my online trainings for counsellors and other professionals here.


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