UK gay, lesbian and bisexual students are at greater risk of suicide, a new study finds.
More than a third of LGB students in the United Kingdom are at a much higher risk of self-harm and suicide attempts than their straight peers.
Low self-esteem is among the causes
The study was conducted by researchers at The University of Manchester, Leeds Beckett University, Lancaster University and Edith Cowan University in Western Australia. Researchers interviewed 707 students with an average age of 23 from two English universities. 119 of the respondents identified as LGB.
The findings, published in the journal Archives of Suicide Research, further suggest that low self-esteem might be among the causes. This comes as a result of discrimination, which may also explain the increased self-harm rates.
Self-harm, also known as self-injury, refers to the behavior of deliberately causing oneself pain or injury.
‘We know much less about how LGB young people seek help for their mental health problems, or what type of support would be effective,’ Dr. Elizabeth McDermott of Lancaster University told Metro.
Of the LGB students surveyed, 65% had carried out non-suicidal self-harm compared to 41% of heterosexual students.
Moreover, 35% of LGB students had attempted suicide in their lifetime as opposed to 14% of non-LGB students.
Improving acceptance in universities is crucial
‘This data highlights how low self-esteem may leave some LGB students more at risk,’ Dr. Peter Taylor of Manchester University also told Metro.
‘Interestingly, anxiety and depressive symptoms did not appear to be important once self-esteem was taken into account.’
Dr. Taylor also highlighted that tackling discrimination and improving acceptance of LGB people through public policy and media campaigns may be helpful in reducing any impact on self-esteem.