Higher risk of suicidal LGBT teens: study
We’ve already written about suicidal LGBT teens before, but’s important to show how much a risk our young ones are when growing up.
This is confirmed by a recent study that pools data from 35 earlier studies showing how sexual minority youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide as compared to their straight peers.
Moreover, as reported in JAMA Pediatrics, transgender youth were nearly six times as likely to kill themselves as compared to their heterosexual compatriots.
Suicidal LGBT teens: Higher risk of suicide
The study noted that many LGBT youth face trouble in accepting who they are because of the way they’re seen by others, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Ester di Giacomo, in an email to Reuters.
“Adolescents facing ‘non-conventional’ sexual identity are at risk of higher self-threatening behaviors, independent of bullying and other risk factors,” di Giacomo said, a researcher in psychiatry at the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy.
“I think that a difficulty in self-acceptance and social stigmatization might be keys for understanding such elevation in the risk of self-threatening behaviors,” di Giacomo added.
While suicide is reported as the second leading cause of death in adolescents, a lot of factors can raise the risk even higher for teenagers to kill themselves.
These include psychiatric illness, bullying, and childhood abuse and trauma. On top of this, sexual orientation can also be a factor.
Suicidal LGBT teens: Study taken from other studies
The studies that were taken into consideration in the analysis covered a total of nearly 2.4 million heterosexual youth and 113,468 sexual minority youth.
These teenagers ranged from ages 12 to 20 and came from 10 countries.
According to the analysis, sexual minority teens were 3.5 times more likely to attempt suicide as compared to their straight peers.
Breaking this down, transgender teens were 5.87 times more likely while gay and lesbian teens were 3.71 times more likely. Bisexual teens were 3.69 times more likely to commit suicide.
According to Brian Mustanski, director of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Health and Well Being at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, this kind of study combines information across prior studies.
Because of this, Mustanski, the advantage of this study gives “one of the best estimates of the disparity of suicide risk due to sexual orientation.”
“We already knew (LBGT) teens were at risk, but this study gives a more precise estimate of that risk,” he added.
Helping and healing suicidal LGBT teens
While there are groups that can help LGBT teens who are feeling suicidal, Mustanski reported that having a romantic relationship can be protection against negative effects of bullying.
He said. “Having positive family relationships and parental support promotes positive mental health, but it doesn’t take away the effects of bullying like a romantic relationship does.”
Meanwhile, Dana Rofey, an associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said that factors can ameliorate the negative effects of the outside world.
“There are protective factors, such as having support from the family, a safe school environment, and a safe and supportive work environment as well as access to psychological and medical care,” Rofey said.
However, Mutanski said that “it’s important to understand not all LGBT teens are suicidal.”
“We read about this community being at risk, but there are plenty of LGBT teens who are happy and thriving and doing great,” he pointed out.