Gay, queer teens have 4 times higher risk of attempting suicide, survey finds

Gay, queer teens have 4 times higher risk of attempting suicide, survey finds

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning (LGBQ) teens have higher likelihood of suicide attempt than other groups, suggests a recent study by researchers from the San Diego State University. According to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in December 2017, LGBQ adolescents are four times as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers.

To examine suicide attempts among youth in the United States, the researchers surveyed 16,000 teens in 2015 who were asked questions on topics like sexuality and mental health. The study found that about 25 percent of LGBQ teens admitted to have attempted suicide at least once within the last year while the same tendency was reported in only 6 percent heterosexual youth. The findings also revealed a higher suicidal tendency in LGBQ males than their female counterparts.

According to the survey, nearly 39 percent bisexual boys said that they considered suicide. Furthermore, 40 percent LGBQ youth seriously considered suicide, while 35 percent adolescents from the same community accepted that they had planned a suicide. However, only 15 percent and 12 percent of heterosexual teens reported to have considered and planned a suicide, respectively.

“There have been some indications that LGBQ youth face increased suicide risks, yet many believed the jury was still out…Our study yields a clear verdict: LGBQ youth face staggeringly high suicide risks,” co-author John Ayers said in a statement. The researchers are upbeat that their findings will encourage health care experts as well as political and social leaders to develop effective strategies to help vulnerable groups combat suicide-related problems.

Dealing with suicidal behavior

In the U.S., suicide is a serious public health problem, affecting a large number of young people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth in the age group of 10 and 24, claiming about 4,600 lives each year.

Suicide is an impulsive act resulting from severe stress. It is usually associated with factors like mental illnesses, such as major depression and bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and substance abuse. Often, people having suicidal thoughts don’t seek professional help due to social stigma, leading to delay in treatment. Experts, therefore, emphasize on the need of educating clinicians and the common public about the stigma experienced by suicide survivors and the ways to help them deal with it.

Health care providers and caretakers should also be aware of early signs of suicidal behavior to prevent future complications. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) suggests some warning signs of suicidal behavior:

  • Talking about killing oneself or wanting to die
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself
  • Losing interest in life
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Feeling of isolation and irregular sleep patterns
  • Increase in substance abuse

Treatment for suicidal behavior

According to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), 90 percent people who die by suicide reported a mental health disorder at the time of their deaths. People with suicidal behaviors can be treated with timely medical interventions, aimed at addressing the underlying mental problems that contribute to the risk for suicide.

Studies show the efficacy of antidepressants and lithium in minimizing suicidal deaths. People prone to suicide attempts are also recommended psychotherapies, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). A recent study highlighted the positive role of ketamine in alleviating depression-induced suicidal thoughts.

If you know someone grappling with suicidal tendencies, encourage him/her to get professional support as soon as possible. The 247 Mental Health Helpline offers the best information about available programs for treating suicidal behavior across the U.S. Call at our 24/7 mental rehab helpline (855) 653-8178 or chat online with one of our representatives who will guide you to one of the best mental health care providers in the country.