Multiple studies have demonstrated that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are at a far greater risk of attempting suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.
Last week, a major study of US high schools by the Center for Disease Control revealed startling statistics. It found that 40% of LGB youth aged 14-17 had considered suicide in the previous 12 month, and 29% had attempted suicide in the same time period.
Another recent study has looked more closely at why those youngsters feel driven to attempt to kill themselves.
‘Predictors of Sexual Minority Youth’s Reported Suicide Attempts and Mental Health’ looked at a sample of 61 students in the mid-South.
It found that those young people who lost friends after coming out were 29 times more likely to attempt suicide, while those who experienced ‘psychological maltreatment’ from caregivers, such as parents, were 9.5 times more likely to attempt suicide.
One of the study’s co-authors, Dr. Audrey Ervin, an associate professor of counseling psychology at Delaware Valley University, said that the research highlighted the importance of creating safe spaces for young LGB people – and the need for counselors and mental health professionals to be sensitive to peer relationships.
‘We all have a responsibility to play a role in creating safe spaces for sexual minorities,’ she said in a press statement. ‘The consequences when we fail to do that can be dire.
‘The study highlights the importance of creative positive, affirming support systems for sexual minority youth.’
Commenting to GSN, Ervin said, ‘It’s very eye-opening to see the correlation between suicide attempts and losing friends after coming out for LBG youth in this sample.
‘Although correlation does not imply causation, it’s imperative to be aware of the possible importance of peer relationships for LGB youth. While more research is needed, mental health professionals should assess family dynamics in addition to support – or lack thereof – from peers.’