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Why is the suicide rate among LGB young people so high?

18 January 2018

Stigma in school, negative reactions to coming out and victimisation are all significantly associated with suicide in lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) young adults.

That is the conclusion of research being presented today by Dan Baker on behalf of a team of researchers from METRO Charity, the University of Greenwich and King’s College London to the annual conference of our Division of Clinical Psychology in Cardiff.

The research team used data from the METRO Youth Chances Study, to analyse the experiences of 3275 young LGB people between the ages of 16 and 25.

They found that suicide attempts were reported by 13.6 per cent of the sample, 45.2 per cent said they had thought of suicide in the past year and 9.5 per cent said future suicide attempts were likely.

LGB stigma and discrimination experiences were significantly associated with all three aspects of suicidality. These included school stigma factors (e.g. teachers not speaking out against prejudice, lessons being negative about sexual minorities), negative reactions to coming out from family and friends, and victimisation ranging from being outed to physical assault or blackmail.

Bisexuality and identifying with a sexual minority at a young age were also associated with suicidality. More general factors associated with suicidality included female gender, lower social support, seeking help for anxiety or depression, and being a victim of violence or sexual abuse.

Dan Baker says:

“Our research shows that a wide range of stigma and discrimination experiences are associated with increased suicidality in LGB youth. Health professionals working with LGB young people should assess and address the effects of LGB-stigma and victimisation experiences, and so should suicide prevention programmes and wider anti-bullying policies and interventions. Although attitudes towards LGB people may be improving, this study shows that many young people are still being profoundly affected by stigma.”


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