Rates of suicide, depression high in LGBTQI+ community, says NAPSA

The national pharmacy students’ association has released its new position statement on LGBTQI+ rights, affirming its belief of “equality in healthcare” and “equality for all”

The National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA) has released a position statement highlighting that it is “a firm believer of equality for all, whether it be religious, race, gender or sexual orientation/identity”.

NAPSA says that while diversity is something Australians celebrate and embrace every day, “there are significant inequalities and disparities in health care for LGBTQI+ people, particularly with regard to mental health”.

“An open, accepting and equal approach to care is paramount in our society. Future generations should be raised in a world where the society is healthy, liberal and harmonious,” says the group in its statement.

“NAPSA strives for this, and stands with the overwhelming majority of Australians in wanting a community that is healthy and harmonious, and where equality is not only sought but embraced.

“For decades, the rates of suicide, depression, loneliness, substance abuse and anxiety – the main pillars of mental health disorders – have remained high for the LGBTQI+ community.”

“The mental health of LGBTQI+ people is amongst the poorest in Australia,” it says, quoting the following statistics:

  • Between 24-36% of LGBTQI+ people filled the criteria for a major depressive disorder in 2005, which is 4-6 times greater than the general population.
  • For transgender women (male to female), this statistic reaches almost 60%.
  • 55% of young LGBTQI+ women, and 40% of young LGBTQI+ men are likely to experience psychological distress, compared with 18% and 7% in the general population respectively.
  • The LGBTQI+ community are almost twice (31%) as likely to experience anxiety disorders
  • It is more than three times (19%) as likely to experience affective disorders.
  • A Beyondblue study conducted in 2011 showed 80% of the LGBTQI+ community experienced an anxiety attack within the previous year (Rosenstreich, 2013 ).
  • LGBTQI+ Australians also have the highest rates of suicide in Australia, with 20% of transgender and 16% of lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians having suicidal ideations.
  • A UK study found that 84% of trans participants wanted to complete suicide at some point in their life, and alarmingly, 50% of the Australian transgender community had attempted to do so.
  • Same-sex attracted Australians have suicidal ideations that are 14 times higher than the general population, and six times higher amongst younger LGBTQI+ members.

“The average age of suicide is 16, often just before they ‘come out’ – be open about their sexuality – to their friends and family,” NAPSA continues.

“Many of those that have completed suicide did not disclose their sexuality to their family, potentially faced with unacceptance from those around them.

“This is no doubt a similar, perhaps more saddening story for many Indigenous LGBTQI+ Australians. Anecdotal evidence has shown they experience more suicidal ideations than the general population and the wider LGBTQI+ community.”

The statement continues: “Promoting and striving for healthcare equality is a pathway to improving the mental health of gay, bisexual, heterosexual and transgender men and women across Australia.

“NAPSA strives to create a profession and community that has a noticeable support network that empowers our members to be who they are and accept each other similarly. This support network is amplified when society is equally as supportive and has everyone’s dignity and equality in mind.

“We are united against those with a prejudice view on different sexual orientations or identities, and to an extent of this, religions and races. To pharmacy and non-pharmacy students alike, we are proud and respect you for who you are and what you represent.

“NAPSA is a proud, diverse association and we respect all members equally. We strive to provide the community – whoever they choose to love or however they choose to live their lives – with equal care, attention and acceptance. Pharmacists are uniquely placed to make a significant difference to the lives of their LGBTQI+ patients – are you with us?”

“If this statement has impacted you and you need to talk, NAPSA are here to listen,” says the group.

The Pharmacists’ Support Service is also available 365 days of the year from 8am to 11pm on 1300 244 910.

For urgent assistance call LifeLine on 13 11 14 or head to lifeline.org.au

Contact NAPSA to read the position statement in full or request access to references.

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  1. Glen Swinburne


  2. Tom

    Here we go again we have fixed all Australia’s health problems and this is the only one left ?

    • Notachemist

      You are too cynical Tom. This is an important issue which impacts on the health and well-being of members of the Australian community.

    • Jarrod McMaugh

      I wasn’t aware that health was dealt with in a queue-like manner.

      Which of the other equally important health issues are you nominating to be dealt with first?

      The reality is, this is an important issue for all of our community, since the health and wellbeing of all subsets of our community affects the whole. It’s not an option to ignore the significant health inequalities that are perpetuated by old thinking

  3. pagophilus

    Yes, so they’re high. Why are they high? (And don’t just rattle off bullying/discrimination, because they’re high in Sweden also, one of the most accepting of countries.) What does the evidence say?

    • Andrew

      Really? Did you chose Sweden because you assume it’s some sort of rabid-lefty utopia?

      A quick google shows me that their health authority only stopped classifying transgender as a mental illness in January 2017.

      I’m pretty interested in hearing your reasoning for your position on LGBTI equality. Didn’t JC have something to say about loving everyone?

      • Daniel Roitman

        Can always count on pagophilus to spout something offensive.

  4. Daniel Roitman

    Well done NAPSA, another great example of ECP’s guiding our profession into the 21st century.