Vermonters demonstrate resiliency and mental wellness

% of LGBT adolescents in grades 9-12 who made a suicide plan in the past year


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Story Behind the Curve

We want this trend to go down.

In 2019, the percentage of Vermont adolescents that identity as LGBTQ who had made a suicide plan in the past year (YRBS) was 36%. LGBT students are four times as likely as heterosexual/cisgender students to have made a suicide plan during the past year.

This indicator was added in recognition that suicide planning identifies youth who need mental health support. Poor mental health can result in serious negative outcomes for the health and development of adolescents. Mental health is measured in the YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Survey) with one question addressing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness and four questions on suicide ideation or action. Suicide ideation or action questions assess consideration of and planning for suicide, attempting suicide, and being medically treated for suicide attempts.

               National research tells us that transgender and gender non-conforming adolescents are dying at higher rates than their classmates. (Trevor Project).

The data is collected from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.  For more data on suicide mortality and self-harm morbidity, please visit

The Vermont Departments of Health and Mental Health are collaborating with community partners to reduce these rates.  One Agency cannot turn the curve alone; there are many partners who have a role to play making a difference.

Suicide is often preventable. If you or someone you know needs help call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273 TALK  or TrevorLifeline — A crisis intervention and suicide prevention phone service available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386

What Works

Systems using evidence based programs covering prevention, screening and identification of youth at risk and subsequent treatment and follow up are being developed in Vermont. Key strategies include the following: Zero Suicide, Lifelines curriculum, UMatter for Schools, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA,) the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS,) the Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ) toolkit, and the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS.)  Vermont has been building its prevention programming and mental health services to respond to the increase in youth, and LGBT youth, who engage in suicide related behavior.


Vermont is focus is on increasing its capacity to offer a specific set of evidenced based practices and programs designed to address the key elements influencing the rise in youth suicide rates and other measures such as youth considering suicide. These strategies include increasing training and capacity for mental health counselors to use the Zero Suicide/CAMS framework in identifying and treating suicidality, supporting “upstream” programs such as UMatter, and increasing youth afterschool quality programming. Many early childhood and school age programs address mental health and wellness and key concepts such as “connectedness.” Specific programs for LGBT youth are available but need to be extended in scope and capacity. 

Why Is This Important?

This indicator, coupled with Vermont’s numbers of actual youth suicides, will inform our knowledge of population-based suicide related behaviors and also the special issues of identified subpopulations, such as LGBT adolescents. These data can inform practitioners who work in health and mental health and public health planners as to how to plan interventions that are designed for both the individual practitioners and also community based prevention. There are several measures that describe risk behaviors related to suicide and VT MCH is using these measures to fully understand the scope of the issue of teen suicide and suicidal behavior by LGBT youth, and how to address related factors such as bullying, mental health, substance abuse, etc. to promote effective prevention actions. 

Notes on Methodology

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) is a national program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is major source of information about youth health related behaviors that may contribute to leading causes of death and disability as adults. The VT YRBSS asks youth about concerning behaviors such as “feeling sad or hopeless” and suicide plans and attempts. Detailed analyses of Vermont data also informs on special subpopulations, such as LGBT youth. 

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