Summary: Youth who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community are twice as likely to experience suicidal thoughts than their heterosexual peers.
Source: University of Georgia
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth experience disproportionately higher rates of suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts compared to their heterosexual peers, according to a new study from the University of Georgia.
Research shows that LGB teens are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide, plan a suicide attempt, and experience suicidal thoughts as their heterosexual peers.
They are also more likely to be exposed to trauma such as sexual assault or dating, the study found. Previous research has established a link between trauma exposure and suicidal ideation and attempts, but the current study found significant differences between how traumatic conflict affects heterosexual youth and its effects on LGB youth.
“The main message of this paper is that among these groups of abuse survivors, those who identify as sexual minorities are more likely to develop suicidal thoughts and behaviors,” said study leader and postdoctoral researcher Emily Ellis. Researcher in the College of Public Health.
“We know that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and behaviors, but they are also more likely to be exposed to repeated traumas and are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder following those exposures.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the reasons LGB youth are more likely to experience traumatic stress than heterosexuals is due to discrimination.
They are more likely to experience rejection and childhood abuse because of their sexuality at home, and are more likely to be bullied and victimized at school.
The survey’s findings are troubling, and likely underreporting and underreporting suicide rates among LGB youth, Ellis said.
Ellis, who recently earned her doctorate in human development and family science with a concentration in marriage and family therapy from UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences, said, “There can be consequences for admitting that you have suicidal thoughts.
“We have to wonder how many more kids who didn’t get this survey who experienced trauma and suicidal thoughts but said no because they were worried someone was going to tell a parent.”
More than one in five students have considered suicide
The 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 on public and private high school students across the country.
The study’s dataset consisted of responses from 2015 to 2019, focusing on students who identified their sexual orientation.
Overall, nearly one in five students (20%) who responded to the survey said they had seriously considered suicide in the past year. More than 7% of students tried to kill themselves.
More than one in 10 students have been sexually assaulted. Of those who said they were dating, 7% reported at least one experience of sexual abuse in their relationship, and 7.4% reported being physically abused at least once in a relationship.
The researchers found that exposure to sexual and dating violence was associated with suicidal ideation, suicide planning, and suicide attempts across all sexes. However, exposure to violence was a significant predictor of suicidal ideation and behavior for sexual minority youth.
Previous research has shown that LGB individuals are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience childhood sexual and dating abuse and often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after violent incidents. This increases the risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, the researchers said.
Sexual violence had the greatest impact on suicidal thoughts and attempts among gay and lesbian youth, and sexual violence had the greatest impact on bisexual youth. This finding suggests that approaches to dealing with suicidality and violence among LGB youth need not be one-size-fits-all, the researchers said.
School policy can strengthen suicide prevention efforts.
Gay-straight alliances, anti-gay policies, and strengthening staff-student relationships have been effective in reducing suicidal thoughts and attempts among transgender students. Educating teachers, school staff, nurses, and counselors about the high rates of romantic and sexual violence among LGB youth can strengthen suicide prevention efforts.
“Friendship violence and suicide prevention programs are happening, but we need more of them, and we need to include interventions that specifically address violence among LGB populations,” Ellis said. “We know that these types of attacks are associated with higher rates of suicide. Let’s go where we have programs.
So psychological research news
Author: Cole Sosebe
Source: University of Georgia
Contact: Cole Sosebe – University of Georgia
Image: The image is in the public domain.
Preliminary study: Closed access.
“Is Injury Risk More Harmful for Sexual Minority Youth? Differences in Associations of Traumatic Suicide in a Nationally Representative Sample of United States Youth and Implications for Suicide Prevention” by Emily Ellis et al Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma
Is Injury Risk More Harmful for Sexual Minority Youth? Differences in Associations of Traumatic Suicide in a Nationally Representative Sample of United States Youth and Implications for Suicide Prevention
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth experience disproportionately high rates of suicidality and vulnerability to traumatic events, such as sexual assault and adolescent dating. Rates of suicide and exposure to traumatic events also differ by gender minority subgroup. The purpose of this study was to: (1) examine the relationship between LGB identity and violence exposure and suicidality; and (2) to examine differences by gender identity.
A sample of respondents who reported their sexuality in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (n = 14,690) was used to examine whether the relationship between sexuality and dating outcomes of suicide (suicidal ideation, planning, and suicide attempt) depended on sexuality. Identity of the returnee. Logistic regression models were fitted with interaction effects to measure differences in associations across identity levels.
General tests of correlations mostly indicate differences in the relationships between sexual violence and physical dating violence. Multiple strata association contrasts indicated significant differences between sexual minority respondents and their heterosexual peers.
Although exposure to violence is more likely to increase the risk of any type of suicidality, LGB and queer youth are more likely to commit suicide compared to their heterosexual peers. Gay and lesbian youth survivors of sexual abuse have been shown to be more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and bisexual youth may be at greater risk after heterosexual abuse. Implications for future research and suicide prevention are discussed.