Oregon has a higher youth suicide rate than the national average. LGBTQIA2S+ youth in our state face unique obstacles due to isolation, loneliness, discrimination, family rejection, fear of violence and increased stress from social and familiar pressure. All of these things can take a toll on their mental health, especially in rural areas of Oregon.


Social connection is crucial to our health and well-being. Yet, many LGBTQIA2S+ face hostility, family rejection or violence in places where kids expect support. These factors increase risk for depression, anxiety and attempting suicide, especially in rural areas of Oregon.

Social connection is a fundamental human need, as essential to survival as food, water, and shelter. Belonging, support and connecting within family, school and communities helps LGBTQIAS2+ youth increase their self-esteem, significantly decrease their risk of suicide and even do better in school.

If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Call or text 988. LGBTQIAS2+ youth can call 988, press 3, or text “Q” for specialized support.



  • Social conditions

    Loneliness and isolation increase the risk for mental health issues. These factors can also affect your overall health, similar to smoking daily.

    Education, income,
    discrimination and structural
    racism are among the social conditions that can limit or
    expand a person’s ability to live a healthy life.

    Three people standing on boxes trying to grab apples from a tree. First person is the tallest with the shortest box. Second person is at middle length with the middle length box. Third person is at the shortest length with the highest box. All three people are able to grab apples from the tree.
  • Physical settings

    We can create supportive schools that welcome kids through fair classroom management, mentoring, and support groups that allow students to lean on and learn from one another.

    The locations where we live,
    work, learn, play or age, such as
    our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, parks,
    senior centers and public spaces, help determine how healthy we
    can be.

    A neighborhood showing a house next to an apartment building next to an office building.
  • Industry practices

    Rainbow washing is when a business, conglomerate or other for-profit organization uses the rainbow Pride colors to suggest to consumers that they support the LGBTQIA2S+ community, without having to put in actual effort or produce a tangible outcome for queer folk.

    Companies sell things—they always have. But today, kids are surrounded by marketing that pushes harmful products, while low-income adults and communities of color are specifically targeted.

    An outdoor billboard showing a sugary drink advertisement for
  • People power

    We can prioritize social connection and support for the LGBTQIA2S+ community by including it in public health policy and providing critical resources to those in need. We can also create strategies to strengthen social connection and accepting communities to reduce mental health issues for LGBTQIA2S+ youth.

    Governments, communities and voters can change policies and environments in ways that make
    it easier or harder to make healthy choices.

    A group of diverse people speaking up at a forum


  • Open Video Modal

    The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth (13-14) seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S. – and at least one attempts suicide every 45 seconds.

    A lot of people think about suicide prevention as that moment of crisis when somebody is thinking about taking their own life. But suicide prevention is also everything that happens before the crisis moment. For a lot of LGBTQ people at the start of the pandemic, there was job losses, economic instability, housing loss, which is why they would have to return to unsupportive environments and all of that, in addition to the stress of this unknown pandemic, really was taking a toll on people. And so we had a team of folks who are really concerned about what this kind of perfect storm might mean. Are we going to see more attempts? Are we going to see more deaths? What will our community look like after this? And so we had the great fortune that some teams at OHA had funding available. They got emergency funding through CDC actually to help respond to some of these needs. And because of this extraordinary point in time, there was kind of no playbook either. So we got to be really creative with how we crafted the call for proposals. And what ended up happening was we got 81 applications from 30 out of 36 counties.

    Robyn (01:18):
    The Oregon Health Authority had some funds that they gave to the Oregon Alliance to prevent suicide. Queer youth experience, mental health struggles and suicide at higher rates because of societal and systemic barriers. And so being able to create spaces for social connectedness during the pandemic that was safe, had really positive outcomes on mental wellbeing, on social emotional issues, on building resiliency, building community, all of that.

    Sophie (01:51):
    Hi, welcome to Out Dance Project. I’m Sophie.

    Elliot (01:56):
    And I’m Elliot. And we are the lead artist of this project, which really what that means is that we got really creative about how to make new friends during COVID. If you don’t see yourself in the world, then you don’t imagine yourself being in the world.

    Sophie (02:08):
    Youth need to have role models and need to have stories to aspire to and need to see queer joy.

    Kris (02:15)
    And to see that they have elders and that people who are like them can survive and can live lives and can live happy and healthy and thriving lives.

    Sophie (02:25)
    I think it was really amazing the way that this project was able to build intimacy, genuine intimacy across distance and in a time of profound isolation.

    Elliot (02:36):
    And those bonds I think, are really important and like deeply part of what it is to be human, you know, or, or to, to try to be human in a good way.

    Robyn (02:43):
    It all comes down to acceptance, belonging and creating positive relationships with one another and offering hope.

    Sophie (02:51):
    A little funding goes a long way when there’s great need and great skill.

    Kris (02:56)
    We all want what’s best for us, for our families. We all want to live fulfilled lives and we all want our children and our friends and family to survive. And this is one part of that story of survival and how we can help each other get there.

    Sophie (03:15):
    Thank you so much everyone, please join us in a round of applause!

    You matter. If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available.
    Call or text 988.
    LGBTQ2SIA+ youth can call 988, press 3, or text “Q” for specialized support.

    Projects funded by the grant: Black & Beyond the Binary Collective Brave Space, LLC Brown Hope Central Oregon Disability Support Network Citizens for Safe Schools Columbia Gorge Pride Alliance Common Ground Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians Crook County Health Department Friendly House Friends of the Children Portland HIV Alliance & TransPonder Lake Health District Multnomah County Student Health Centers NARA NW Oregon Institute of Technology Oregon School-Based Health Alliance OUT Dance Project Project DOVE Q and A of Coos County Rogue Action Center Youth ERA

    The Oregon Health Authority would like to thank funders for this project: This project was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under the cooperative agreement CDC-RFA-CE21-2101: Core State Injury Prevention Program (Core SIPP) in combination with the Covid supplement funding CDC-RFA-CE16-1602SUPCOVID19: Core State Violence & Injury Prevention Program. The findings and conclusions in this presentation are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Funding for this project was made possible (in part) by grant numbers SM 061759 and SM 082094 from SAMHSA. The views expressed in written materials or publication and by speakers do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or policies of CMHS, SAMHSA or HHS; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

    Place Matters Oregon

    Programs across Oregon work to prevent LGBTQIA2S+ youth suicide

    LGBTQIA2S+ youth experience mental health struggles and suicide at higher rates because of barriers they face. Those barriers include both challenges within our systems and our society. See how creating community programs to support LGBTQIAS2+ youth positively impacts their mental health.

    If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Call or text 988. LGBTQIA2S+ youth can call 988, press 3, or text “Q” for specialized support.

  • Open Video Modal

    Lane (00:02):
    In 2020, the Oregon Alliance to Prevent Suicide issued a statewide call for grant proposals. The grant was called the LGBTQ+ Mini Grant and its mission was to support the LGBTQ+ community during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the grant recipients organized a mentorship program for LGBTQ+ youth in rural Oregon. Three years later, we sat down with two members of the program to see how it has impacted their lives.

    Lane (00:33):
    Hi, my name’s Lane, I use he/him pronouns. I’m 18 and I’m a senior at McDaniel High School in Portland, Oregon.

    Marcail (00:40):
    My name is Marcail and I am 12 and I’m in seventh grade.

    Audrey (00:48):
    My name’s Audrey. I’m 13 and I’m in seventh grade.

    Marcail (00:53):
    I have been out since I started middle school and it’s never been fully positive, but I wouldn’t go back on it.

    Lane (01:02):
    So you’d say it’s more difficult to be out in this community? Yeah. What about within your school? What has that been like?

    Audrey (01:08):
    To be honest, if me and Marc weren’t best friends I would probably be an outcast at school.

    Marcail (01:15):
    At school especially, I’m really like openly gay. Like, I don’t like to hold back about who I am. I’m not going to make other people feel more comfortable. I had once had a kid ask me how much they could pay me to stop being gay. It made me feel really bad that people were so willing to hate me, that they would pay money to change me.

    Lane (01:40):
    Did you have any like, role models that you could look up to as people in your community who were queer, that were kind of trailblazers for you, or could, you know, mentor you or you could look up to during this time?

    Marcail (01:50):
    During COVID is when I discovered Pride Circle. Even though we started just through Zoom, it was a place where you could talk to other people who understood where you were coming from and like be there to support you.

    Lane (02:04):
    Are other people going through similar experiences so you can kind of like, you know, relate to each other and work through that?

    Audrey (02:10):
    There are a lot of other kids who are going through the kind of stuff that we go through and some kids that are going through like, a lot worse than we go through. And it feels really nice to be able to go and talk to people who know how we’re feeling or who we know how they’re feeling or we can kind of understand how terrible it can be.

    Lane (02:28):
    And tell me a little bit about like, the mentors. How does, how does that relationship help you or what, how does it give you hope?

    Audrey (02:36):
    There’s all these like really supportive adults and other like, really supportive kids and it’s, it just feels really, really safe at Pride Circle cause there’s just so many supportive people there.

    Marcail (02:46):
    Without Pride Circle, I think I would literally be dead. I’ve cut before I’ve considered suicide. One of the few things that like kept me going was the amazing people and positive people that I’ve met here and been around and know that they care. And knowing that if I stay strong I can help them stay strong.

    Lane (03:18):
    What do you think Oregon LGBTQ+ youth need more of in terms of support?

    Audrey (03:24):
    We need people to understand that like, there’s a lot more people struggling than it might seem. There could be someone who, their whole family, they assume is straight, but they could have like a cousin or like a nephew or their sister could be, or their brother could be gay or trans or they could end up being non-binary and just being like their sibling, but they wouldn’t know that and they could be struggling really hard.

    Marcail (03:47):
    I know so many kids that can’t come out to like their parents and their family and I’ve had days where I wake up and even just thinking about having to go to school makes me burst into tears. But one of the like things that keeps me going is they know that I’m strong enough to keep going and it shows that they can be too.

    You matter. If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available.
    Call or text 988.
    LGBTQ2SIA+ youth can call 988, press 3, or text “Q” for specialized support.

    Supportive communities save lives.
    How will you show your support?

    Place Matters Oregon

    Social connection is crucial to LGBTQIA2S+ youth’s health

    LGBTQIA2S+ youth discuss the challenges they face in rural Oregon. See how they navigate hostility with the support of their community.

    If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Call or text 988. LGBTQIA2S+ youth can call 988, press 3, or text “Q” for specialized support.

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Time to get involved

Whether you have one minute or a full day, each of us has a role to play in making sure all Oregonians have the opportunity for a healthy life.

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Personal stories show how community affects our health. Share the story of two youth living in rural Oregon who are navigating hostility with the support of their community.

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Get to know a partner

The Oregon Alliance to Prevent Suicide strengthens local systems of care for Oregonians. They improve the lives of people in our communities with mental illness, substance use disorders and intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families.

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