Gay teens and the suicide risk
Lesbian, gay and bisexual teens are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.
The findings showed that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) teens living in counties with a high proportion of gay and lesbian couples, and those who went to schools with gay-straight alliances and anti-discrimination policies, were less likely to attempt suicide than LGB teens living in less accepting environments.

Hatzenbuehler used data from 3 years of health surveys given to teens in Oregon. The data covered more than 30,000 high school students across the state, all surveyed during 11th grade.

Teens answered questions about depression, alcohol use, and relationships with their peers and family, as well as their sexuality.

About 1400 of teens surveyed identified themselves as being gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Of those students, almost 22 kids out of every hundred said they had attempted suicide in the past year. That compared to about 4 of every hundred teens who identified as straight and said they had attempted suicide.

Suicide attempts were more common in LGB teens who reported being depressed and binge drinking, as well as those who had been victimized by their peers or physically abused by an adult.

The findings show that by making a few concrete changes to their policies, schools can improve the community for their LGB students and perhaps cut down on attempted suicides as well, Hatzenbuehler said.

Is it really "suicide"?

Dr. Ritch Savin-Williams, a psychologist from Cornell University, questioned the notion that LGB youth are more likely to attempt suicide at all, and said the issue is more controversial than this study suggests.

He said that while LGB youth report suicide attempts more often than straight youth, their idea of a suicide attempt may be skewed. "We have given them the message that they are suicidal," said Savin-Williams, who wasn't involved in the study.

"Every kid has to be protected, every kid has to be safe, and it's the school's responsibility to do that," Savin-Williams said. But rather than highlight suicide risks, he said, "my approach would be: look what kind of abilities you're squashing by not having protection of gay kids. I think that's a real loss."

What are your thoughts on LGB teens being more suicidal?

Read Parent24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Everything from parties to pre-schools in your area.

Jobs - Find your dream job

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Java Developer

Network IT Recruitment
R450 000.00 - R500 000.00 Per Month

Financial Manager

Communicate Recruitment: Finance 3
R750 000.00 - R800 000.00 Per Month

Property - Find a new home