Centre for Suicide Prevention commends the Government of Canada for proposing the criminalization of conversion therapy throughout Canada through the tabling of Bill C-8.
Conversion therapy seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity through repression. It is a practice that is associated with numerous psychological harms, including poor self-esteem, self- hatred, depression, anxiety, problematic substance use, all of which are contributing factors to suicide.
Research and surveys tell us that people in sexual and gender minorities who have been exposed to conversion therapy attempt suicide 14 times more often than those in the general population. This rate is double that of suicide attempts in those belonging to sexual and gender minorities who have not been exposed. 28% of young people who had been exposed to conversion therapy attempted suicide, compared to 14% of sexual and gender minority youth who had not been exposed.
Criminalizing conversion therapy is an important step in reducing suicide among sexual and gender minorities, who are a priority population in suicide prevention.
We support the criminalization of conversion therapy in Canada and applaud this important step towards protecting the mental health of people belonging to sexual and gender minorities and their rights, and helping to reduce suicide among sexual and gender minorities.
While we know that conversion therapy perpetuates and introduces deep, lasting trauma in a person’s life, we also know that suicide is preventable. People in sexual and gender minorities can find resilience by surrounding themselves with people who accept and support them. As a community, we protect the mental health of people in these groups by ensuring they have access to inclusive, non-discriminatory healthcare and mental health care.