Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Health & Wellness

LGB adults at higher risk of suicidal thoughts and self-harm – study

Experiences of bullying may contribute to the increased probability of suicidal thoughts among lesbian or gay adults, and that experiences of discrimination and bullying (both categorized as minority stress factors) may each contribute to the increased risk of self-harm among lesbian, gay and bisexual adults.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people are more than twice as likely than their straight peers to experience suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviors. This is according to a study – “Suicidal thoughts, suicide attempt and non-suicidal self-harm amongst lesbian, gay and bisexual adults compared with heterosexual adults: analysis of data from two nationally representative English household surveys” by Garrett Kidd, Louise Marston, Irwin Nazareth, David Osborn and Alexandra Pitman – that appeared in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

Here, the researchers analyzed data combined from two household surveys of 10,443 English adults (aged 16 and over), representative of the population, sampled in 2007 and 2014.

The researchers found that:

  • an increased probability of past-year suicidal thoughts among lesbian or gay adults when compared with heterosexuals,
  • lifetime non-suicidal self-harm among bisexual, lesbian or gay people, and
  • depression, anxiety, and experiences of discrimination or bullying may contribute in part to these increased risks.

Worryingly, the researchers found no improvement in these inequalities in suicidal thoughts and self-harm between the two time points.

Lead author Dr Alexandra Pitman (UCL Psychiatry) said: “People with sexual minority identities continue to face more discrimination and bullying than heterosexual people and are also more likely to experience common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Our study suggests that these experiences of discrimination and bullying may have some role to play in increasing the risk of suicidality and this requires further research.”

The researchers recommend:

  • for clinicians to be aware of these issues, so that we can best support the mental health of LGB patients,
  • for society as a whole to play a part in helping to reduce discrimination, and
  • for government bodies, schools, workplaces and individuals to consider their own cultures and attitudes towards people from sexual minority groups and challenge discriminatory behavior.

It is generally accepted that half of lesbian or gay adults experience bullying, one in five experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation within the past year; and – for bisexual adults – almost half had experienced bullying, and one in ten had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation within the past year.

For the researchers, even after accounting for the increased risk of common mental health problems (depression and anxiety), lesbian and gay adults were still more than twice as likely as heterosexuals to report past-year suicidal thoughts, and lesbian, gay and bisexual adults were more than three times as likely to report lifetime non-suicidal self-harm than heterosexuals.

When investigating the comparative likelihood of past-year suicide attempt, the researchers found an increased risk for bisexual adults when compared with heterosexuals, but this was no longer apparent when taking into account the increased risk of common mental health problems. The researchers caution that as the proportions with past-year suicide attempt were relatively low, their findings do not necessarily rule out an elevated suicide attempt risk among the sexual minority group as a whole.

Further analysis suggested that experiences of bullying may contribute to the increased probability of suicidal thoughts among lesbian or gay adults, and that experiences of discrimination and bullying (both categorized as minority stress factors) may each contribute to the increased risk of self-harm among lesbian, gay and bisexual adults.

First author Garrett Kidd, who worked on the study as his dissertation for a Clinical Mental Health Sciences MSc in UCL Psychiatry, said: “Our health services need to be improved to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ people, as some people may not feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation, which can hamper an understanding of their health and social needs. We also need to offer more mental health services specifically catered to LGBTQ+ people, ideally alongside community-based support.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Advertisement
Advertisement

Like Us On Facebook

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Health & Wellness

Females and people who did not identify as heterosexual are at greater risk of internalized weight stigma.

Health & Wellness

The number of self-reported “poor mental health days” per month serves as a reliable indicator of mental health, correlating with other psychological and physical...

Health & Wellness

The proportion of serious suicidal ideation and behavior was higher among bisexual women compared to lesbian women. Experiencing anxiety, depression, victimization distress, and family...

Health & Wellness

Bisexual and gay/lesbian individuals had significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms. This was partially explained by childhood gender nonconformity. The effect on depressive symptoms...

Advertisement