LGBTQIA+ youth are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers
Summary: Young people who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community are twice as likely to experience suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers.
Source: University of Georgia
New research from the University of Georgia suggests that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth experience disproportionately high rates of suicidal thoughts, planning and attempts compared to their heterosexual peers.
The study found that LGB adolescents were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide, plan a suicide attempt, and experience suicidal thoughts than their heterosexual classmates.
They are also more likely to experience trauma, such as sexual or dating violence, the research found. Previous research has drawn links between exposure to trauma and suicidal ideation and attempts, but the current study found a significant difference between how trauma affects heterosexual youth and its effects on LGB teenagers.
“The main message of this paper is that among a group of survivors of this type of violence, those who identify as a sexual minority are more likely to develop suicidal thoughts and behaviors,” said Emilie Ellis, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral fellow. researcher at the College of Public Health.
“We know that LGBTQ+ people are much more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and behaviors, but they are also much more likely to experience trauma more often and to develop post-traumatic stress disorder after exposure to trauma.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most likely reasons why LGB youth experience more traumatic stress than heterosexuals is discrimination.
They are more likely to experience childhood rejection and bullying because of their sexual orientation at home, and they are also more likely to experience bullying and victimization at school.
The research findings are troubling, and the number of suicidal LGB youth is likely underrepresented due to underreporting and the stigma surrounding suicide, Ellis said.
“There could be consequences if you admit you have suicidal ideation,” said Ellis, who recently earned a doctorate in human development and family science with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy from UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
“We have to think about how many more kids there are who didn’t get this survey who experienced trauma and suicidal ideation but said no because they were worried someone would tell a parent.”
More than one in five students thought about suicide
Researchers analyzed 14,690 responses to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that provides representative data from public and private high school students nationwide.
The study’s dataset contained responses from 2015 to 2019, focusing on students who identified their sexual orientation.
Overall, nearly one in five college students (20%) who responded to the survey reported seriously considering suicide in the past year. More than 7% of students actually tried to kill themselves.
More than one in every 10 students has experienced sexual violence. Of those who said they had dated, 7% reported at least one experience of sexual violence in their dating life, and 7.4% said they had experienced physical violence at least once in a relationship.
The researchers found that exposure to sexual and dating violence was associated with an increased likelihood of suicidal thoughts, suicide planning, and suicide attempts across sexualities. However, exposure to violence was significantly more predictive of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among sexual minority youth.
Previous research has shown that LGB people are more likely to experience childhood sexual abuse and dating violence than their heterosexual peers and are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after violent incidents. This puts them at greater risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, researchers say.
Sexual abuse had the strongest impact on suicidal thoughts and attempts among gay and lesbian youth, while sexual dating violence had the greatest impact on bisexual adolescents. This finding suggests that the approach to addressing suicide and violence among LGB youth should not be one-size-fits-all, the researchers said.
School policies could strengthen suicide prevention efforts
Gay-straight alliances, anti-homophobia policies, and strengthening staff-student relationships have been shown to be effective in reducing rates of suicidal ideation and attempts among sexual minority students. Building on these existing structures and educating teachers, school staff, nurses, and counselors about the increased rates of exposure and sexual violence among LGB youth could strengthen suicide prevention efforts.
“There are programs to prevent dating violence and suicide, but we need more of them, and we need to include interventions that specifically address violence among the LGB population,” Ellis said. “We know that these types of violence are associated with more suicide. We go where we already have programs in place.”
About this psychology research news
Original Research: Closed access.
“Is exposure to trauma more harmful for sexual minority youth? Differences in trauma-suicide associations in a nationally representative sample of US youth and implications for suicide prevention” Emilie Ellis et al. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma
Is exposure to trauma more harmful for sexual minority youth? Differences in trauma-suicide associations in a nationally representative sample of US youth and implications for suicide prevention
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth experience disproportionately high rates of suicide and exposure to traumatic events, such as sexual and adolescent violence. Rates of suicidality and exposure to traumatic events also vary by sexual minority subgroup. The purpose of this study was to: (1) investigate the influence of LGB identity on the relationship between exposure to violence and suicide; and (2) to examine variation by sexual identity.
A subsample of respondents who reported their sexual identity in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (n = 14,690) was used to examine whether the association between sexual and dating violence with suicidal outcomes (suicidal ideation, suicide planning, and attempted suicide) was mediated by sexual behavior. . the identity of the respondent. Logistic regression models were fitted with an interaction effect to quantify the heterogeneity of associations across identity strata.
Overall interaction tests mostly indicated heterogeneity in the association between sexual violence and physical dating violence. Several strata association contrasts suggest significant differences in likelihood between sexual minority respondents and their heterosexual peers.
While exposure to violence was broadly associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing any type of suicidality, LGB and youth respondents were significantly more likely to experience suicidality compared to their heterosexual peers. Gay and lesbian youth showed the highest likelihood of experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviors among victims of sexual violence, while bisexual youth may be at greater risk after dating violence. Implications for future research and suicide prevention are discussed.
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