Women who identify as bisexual were more than three times more likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual women, according to a study (“Disparities in Suicide-Related Behaviors Across Sexual Orientations by Gender: A Retrospective Cohort Study Using Linked Health Administrative Data”) published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
The research, which is the first to link population-based survey data with health records for over 123,000 individuals, also found that gay men and gay women/lesbians were twice as likely to attempt suicide, both fatal and non-fatal, which the team refers to as a suicide-related behavior (SRB) event, compared to heterosexual individuals. The findings point to an urgent need for better mental health supports within the LGBTQ+ community.
Published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the study looked at Ontario participants from the Canadian Community Health Survey, which was linked to anonymous administrative health data such as emergency room visits or hospitalizations for non-fatal self-harm and fatal suicide events between 2002 and 2019.
The researchers found:
- Overall prevalence of one or more SRB events was around two per cent in heterosexual individuals, five per cent in gay/lesbian individuals, and eight per cent in bisexual individuals.
- Sexual minority individuals were at higher risk of SRB events, ranging from 2.10 to 4.23 times more likely when compared to heterosexual people.
- After adjusting for age and gender, the risk of a SRB event was more than three times greater among bisexual individuals, and this risk was most pronounced for bisexual women.
“The higher risk for bisexual women could be attributed to greater discrimination that bisexual people face within the LGBTQ+ community, as well as higher rates of violence, trauma, and caregiving burden that bisexual women may experience in opposite-sex relationships,” says lead author Antony Chum.
The researchers recommend:
- Better funding, policy and programming to address LGBTQ+ suicide risk;
- Increased training for healthcare workers to address LGBTQ+ suicide risk; and Encourage hospitals and clinics to collect sexual orientation data as part of routine patient care.