More UK LGBTQ people under lockdown seek suicide-prevention help
There are more UK LGBTQ people seeking mental well-being support from suicide-prevention groups as they try to survive the lockdown in their country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a report by BBC News, several groups have reported a significant increase in the number of LGBTQ people in the UK visiting their suicide-prevention web pages.
A cry for help from many UK LGBTQ people
According to BBC, the Health Equality and Rights Organisation for LGBTQ+ people (LGBT HERO) reported visits by 11,000 people, an increase by 44 percent as compared to the first three months of the year.
Transgender youth charity Mermaids reported they were forced to contact the police with the number of callers planning to kill themselves, even The LGBT Foundation reported an increase of phone calls regarding suicide.
A total of eight UK-based charities have expressed concern over this increase of LGBTQ people seeking support for suicide prevention.
Gavin Boyd, Policy and Advocacy Manager for The Rainbow Project based in Northern Ireland, told BBC that, “In just the last three weeks, we know of three LGBT people who have ended their lives.”
Another chief executive for a charity said that with the present situation, “We’re under more pressure to deliver than ever before.”
But the official– who refused to be identified– warned, “The government has done absolutely nothing to help regional LGBT charities cope with the demand from our already struggling service users.”
Data needed for LGBTQ support and funding
The UK government has acknowledged that their LGBTQ population is at higher risk of suicide as compared to the general population. Unfortunately, there is no national data on LGBTQ suicides.
In 2018, they launched an LGBT Action Plan that would reduce suicides among the LGBTQ population. Likewise, they came up with an “updated Suicide Prevention Strategy” that committed to “rapid evidence review” into LGBTQ suicide last year.
However, none have yet been put into action yet even as a Department of Health official said: “We are absolutely committed to supporting everyone’s mental health and wellbeing, especially during this unprecedented period.”
Helen Jones, CEO of MindOut, the UK-wide dedicated LGBT mental health charity, said: “LGBT lives are being lost and we need to know more. It is so frustrating. Recording this data must be a nationwide campaign.”
Charities said this lack of national data hinders them from securing funding and helping others. LGBT Hero chief executive Ian Howley said, “Unless we are counted, we don’t count.”
Meanwhile, Emma Meehan of The LGBT Foundation said: “Due to the government’s frustrating lack of proper reporting, we’ll never be able to put a true figure on the scale of this crisis.”
Survey of UK LGBTQ people under lockdown
In a survey conducted by LGBT HERO’s OutLife last May 14 and 29 this year via Facebook, the current lockdown has severely affected the mental health of the LGBTQ community in the UK.
In their LGBTQ+ Lockdown Wellbeing Report, they noted that almost four in five or 79 percent of LGBTQ people said that their mental health had been negatively impacted by the lockdown.
Further, more than two in three or 67 percent of under 18 LGBTQ people felt lonely “very often” or “every day” during lockdown.
Ian Howley, chief executive of LGBT HERO, said: “It’s without any doubt that COVID-19, and the lockdown it brought, has negatively affected LGBTQ+ people. The results are clear and we can see the impact it has had on our community.”
Howley further said: “Although the government has released funds for non-profits during the coronavirus pandemic, it doesn’t go far enough and charities, like ourselves, tend to fly under the radar and miss out on a lot of the funding that’s available.”