LGBTI youth (ages 12-14) make up nearly 1 in 4 preteen suicides, according to a new study.
This puts them at a significantly higher risk than their heterosexual peers, although the discrepancy decreases as they get older.
Geoffrey Ream of Adelphi University conducted and published the research in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
According to the paper, the purpose of the research was to ‘ explore variability in circumstances around suicide deaths among youth and young adults by sexual/gender identity category’.
Researchers looked at national data of over 10,000 suicides. They then narrowed and analyzed data from 2,209 individuals whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity were noted in the data.
A majority of the victims from the data were heterosexual males (73%). Other groups followed: heterosexual females (18%), gay males (2.2%), lesbians (2.9%), bisexual males (0.8%), bisexual females (0.5%), transgender males (0.7%), and transgender females (0.5%).
However, LGBTI preteen youth became more likely to take their own life when compared to straight peers by age.
Lesbians and bisexual females were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual males.
The data further revealed trans males were almost four times as likely.
More specifically, bisexual females had the highest rates of suicide ideation. They were also 24 times more likely to have a diagnosed mental illness.
LGBTI youth contributed to 24% of preteen suicides overall in 2013-2015. This number dropped by eight points when the age range increased to 25-29.
High suicide rates among LGBTI youth is not new information. Numerous studies before this one have shown that LGBTI youth worldwide struggle more with suicide ideation than their straight peers.
In the US, a recent report revealed half of transgender male teens attempted suicide.
Ream, however, said this study was meant to provide a context for these statistics.
‘We already knew, or at least suspected, that younger people are especially vulnerable to the stress of coming out,’ he explained. ‘This is because they don’t have the psychological resources or personal independence to handle things themselves that they will have when they are older.’
He found in his research that family problems contributed more to young LGBTI people’s suicides, while relationships with intimate partners was the bigger problem among LGBTI adults.
Further, one-third of LGBTI youth studied in the paper were being treated for a mental illness when they took their own life.