To inform the development of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia was commissioned to facilitate targeted consultations to provide advice on issues and experiences of mental health and suicide by LGBTIQ+ people and communities, and provide recommendations to how the Strategy should acknowledge the needs of LGBTIQ+ people and communities as a priority.
LGBTIQ+ people have been identified as a priority population in national strategies for some time, including the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. These have acknowledged the disproportionate rates of illness, the limited impact of existing approaches and the need for targeted responses to the specific vulnerabilities of LGBTIQ+ people.
The consultations specifically explored the causes of poor outcomes; individual discrimination, structural discrimination, intersecting discrimination including racism, minority stress, intergenerational trauma, involuntary medical intervention, lack of gender affirmation, pathologisation, social isolation, sexual domestic and family violence, clinical mental health conditions, lack of service access and homelessness, poverty, unemployment and disrupted education.
LGBTIQ+ Health Australia hosted a series of consultations that focused on gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities; trans and gender diverse communities; intersectionalities (CALD, regional/rural and people with disabilities); intersex communities; and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Further individual meetings were undertaken where further information was required from some groups, for example with LGBTQ+ people with disabilities. A total of 15 recommendations were made in the final report.
The report iterated that supporting Australians to be affirming allies would go a long way in increasing feelings of safety, belonging and preventing the root causes of internalised shame and stigma that can be experienced. Actions include calling out and responding to harmful and politicalised rhetoric that harms and marginalises LGBTQ+ communities and investment in programs to support people to be their authentic selves across society, including settings of education, workplace, and communities.
This is best achieved by working in co-design with the communities themselves both through sustainable investment in peer led/community-controlled organisations and programs and building the capacity of mainstream health service providers to be culturally safe, affirming and effectively respond to the needs of LGBTQ+ and intersex communities.