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Unequal Risk: Youth Suicide Disparities in Cortland County

September isn’t just the start of the fall season, it is also the start of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Throughout September, CACTC will be focusing on reversing the stigma associated with suicide by bringing awareness to the issue by highlighting local trends. Did you know that in 2022, 29% of Cortland County students 7-12th grade reported having depressive symptoms? Not to mention that about 1 in 5 teens reported that they had seriously thought about suicide, while 8% reported a suicide attempt in the past year.

Not all teens in Cortland experience mental health issues equally.

Health disparities are unequal differences in health and healthcare between different groups of people that are linked to broader inequities. These disparities are not the fault of the individual person experiencing them, but rather come from the systems they live in and engage with.

Cortland County students who identify as LGBQ+, transgender, BIPOC, and female had higher reported rates of depression, suicidal ideation, as well as suicide attempts. The highest rates of suicidal ideation were reported by LGBQ+ students (50%) and transgender students (61%). LGBQ+ (19%) and transgender students (24%) also had the highest reported rates of suicide attempts. The disparities seen across race, sexual orientation, and gender in Cortland County students, mirrors trends seen nationwide in both adults and youth.

There are many reasons why someone may consider suicide. For youth, those with a history of depression or substance use are at risk of suicide. In Cortland teens, 81% of teens with suicidal ideation reported feelings of depression. Teens in 7-12th grade who reported experiencing thoughts of suicide were three times as likely to report using alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, and vapes in the past 30 days compared to students without ideation. Those who reported attempting suicide were almost twice as likely to report alcohol, marijuana, cigarette, and vape use than those who reported ideation.

What parents can do.

Family support is critical to youth development, as they help guide social, emotional, and cognitive development. However, when youth have a disruptive home or an unsupportive family, these could become risk factors for suicide. Cortland County teens that felt like they could not go to their parents for help with a personal problem (47%) were more likely to report suicidal thoughts than those who do have parental support (15%). However, there exist further disparities in familial support in Cortland County. Meaning, LGBQ+ and transgender students were more than twice as likely to report feeling unsupported, unloved, and unprotected than their straight or cisgender peers. Cortland County LGBQ+ and transgender teens were also less likely to report feeling close to either of their parents, signifying the need for more parental support.

To help bring support and understanding to our LGBTQ+ youth in Cortland County, CACTC is helping The Corltand LGBTQ Center promote their LGBTQ Parenting Series.

Who It’s For: Parents of LGBTQ+ youth who:

  • Want to know more about the LGBTQ+ community

  • Are looking for advice on how to best support their child

  • Don’t have time in their schedule to attend one of the center’s hour long trainings

What’s Included:

When you sign up for the Center’s free LGBTQ Parenting Series, you get access to eight pre-recorded videos that walk you through different parts of parenting. These videos are able to be viewed at home, and at a time that works for your schedule. The videos include:

  • A welcome video

  • Overview of the basics of the community

  • What if it’s a phase? (And other concerns)

  • Parental fears (youth mental health)

  • Adjusting to your new reality

  • Understanding the transition process for trans youth

  • Navigating crushes and dating

  • Safer sex information for same gender couples

Every video also comes with worksheets so you can apply the information to your specific situation, as well as links to additional resources.

Visit to sign up for the Parenting Series, or to find more information and services for LGBTQ+ individuals.

If your child or anyone you know is thinking about suicide, please contact the local or national hotlines below. These hotlines provide free, 24/7 confidential help for those who are in distress, as well as providing resources and practices for you and your loved ones.

Cortland County Mobile Crisis Line: (607)-756-3771

National Suicide Hotline: (988)


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Disparities in suicide. Retrieved from (August 16, 2023).

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2023). Suicide prevention. Retrieved from (August 16, 2023).

Cortland Area Communities That Care (CACTC). Results and Analysis: The 2022 Cortland County Youth Survey. February 2023.

Nevada Office of Suicide Prevention. (2021). Risk factors. Retrieved from (Accessed August 16, 2023).

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