There are roughly 31,000 teen suicides each year; let’s round it down to 30,000. Various studies have shown that gay teens are anywhere from twice as likely to seven times as likely to attempt suicide; let’s take a conservative estimate and say twice. The percentage of people who are gay is probably around 6% to 7%; let’s take a conservative estimate and say 5%.
That means that a conservative estimate of the percentage of teen suicides that are of gay teens is about 9.52%. Multiply that by 30,000 and you get 2857 gay teen suicides per year, or 238 per month.
That’s using very conservative estimates. Let’s try making them just modestly conservative. Say that 6% of all teens are gay, and that they’re 2.5 times as likely to kill themselves, and the result is that 13.8% of all teen suicides are of gay teens, or 4128 per year, or 344 per month.
Those are, as I said, conservative numbers. If you take the most widely quoted statistic, which is that 30% of all teen suicides are of gay teens, then you get 9000 per year, or 750 per month.
There’s nothing new about any of this; the estimates were in the same ballpark when I was majoring in psychology in college 25 years ago.
So if you hear me grinding my teeth at the recent articles about gay teens who have killed themselves, it’s not that I’m annoyed by the coverage. It’s that I’m annoyed about the repeated references to these six suicides as a “dramatic increase” or a “disturbing trend” or anything like that. The high suicide rate among gay teens has been a tragedy I have known about and lived with my whole adult life as a gay man, and hearing these six suicides presented as though they were anything out of the ordinary angers me.
The only thing out of the ordinary here is that, of the several hundred gay teen suicides that occur every month, the mainstream media is ignoring merely all but six of them, instead of ignoring all of them as they usually do.
Yes, it would be wonderful if the current media attention leads to some change. Not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m just angered at the pretense that at least thirty or forty times this many suicides haven’t been happening every month for decades.