Letters

Youth suicide risk

As the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, headspace is 100 per cent supportive of the “YES” vote. We have a history of proof as to why such a vital social measure needs to be taken. 

What we’ve seen and what the research has shown is that young LGBTIQ Australians have a higher risk of having or developing mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. 

This higher risk is related to homophobic abuse, difficulties associated with disclosure, community attitudes and discrimination. 

Young people already have enough to contend with. Issues such as stigma around their identity, and inequality in the eyes of the law, are challenges young people should not need to face.

headspace clinicians who work at our online and over-the-phone counselling service, eheadspace, tell me of the worrying trends that LGBTIQ young people are reporting.

They feel that other people are deciding if they deserve to have their relationships recognised. They report feeling like a “freak”. 

Some have even said they feel hated by fellow Australians, and that they feel some people would rather LGBTIQ young people weren’t here.These fears should not exist. 

Earlier this year, young people at headspace introduced a peer-led initiative created from a recognised need in communities across Australia. Qheadspace, is on online anonymous support group chat, led by trained ‘queer peers’ to support young LGBTIQA+ people going through a tough time. 

In recent weeks headspace has also come together with other youth mental health organisations in the #mindthefacts campaign. We are pooling our resources, knowledge, and expertise to fight for the “YES” vote - based on facts. We are encouraging Australians to carefully consider the real and devastating links between youth suicide rates and discrimination against young LGBTIQ people when they cast their vote. A “YES” vote for marriage equality could see as many as 3000 youth suicide attempts be averted each year. 

JASON TRETHOWAN, headspace CEO.