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Gender nonbinary people have higher suicidal thoughts; most suicide attempts linked with realization of identity

Most suicide attempts (60.9%) of gender nonbinary people occurred within five years of realizing their sexual minority identity.

Photo by Pier Monzon from Unsplash.com

Most suicide attempts (60.9%) of gender nonbinary people occurred within five years of realizing their sexual minority identity. This is according to a study – “Suicidal Behavior and Coming Out Milestones in Three Cohorts of Sexual Minority Adults” by Ilan H. Meyer, John R. Blosnich, Soon Kyu Choi, Gary W. Harper, and Stephen T. Russell – that appeared in LGBT Health.

For this study, the researchers hypothesized that suicide attempts coincide with the coming out period, and that younger sexual minority people, who grew up in more accepting social environments, have lower prevalence of suicide attempts than older generations.

In total, 1,518 sexual minority adults in three age cohorts of 18–25, 34–41, and 52–59 years (collected from 2016–2018) completed a self-administered survey.

The researchers found:

  • Sexual minority adults had high prevalence of lifetime suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts, with the highest attempted suicides in the younger cohort (30.8%) versus the middle (23.7%) and older (20.3%) cohorts.
  • There were no differences in suicidal behavior by race and ethnicity or between men and women, but gender nonbinary people had higher prevalence of suicidal thoughts.
  • The mean age at suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts tracked closely with age of first realization of sexual minority identity.
  • Most suicide attempts (60.9%) occurred within 5 years of realizing one’s sexual minority identity, but a significant proportion of attempts (39.1%) occurred outside this range.

For the researchers, while there may be a belief that gender nonconforming people are more accepted now, the findings still contradict this. Thereby, they highlighted that “younger cohorts of sexual minority people are also at risk of suicidality.” As such, suicide prevention efforts should also include them as target population.

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