Sexual Minority Youth Have Elevated Suicide Risk

Though it is believed that sexual minority adolescents are at increased risk for suicide behaviors, few studies have used nationally representative samples to test this claim.

Because resources and stigma vary across communities, this lack of generalizability is a major limitation. A  2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) used nationally representative data from 2015 to estimate suicide risk behaviors of sexual minority adolescents and found that, in comparison to their heterosexual peers, sexual minority youth are significantly more likely to consider, plan, or attempt suicide.

The authors also stratified by sex and found that 40% of lesbians in their study considered suicide vs. 19.6% of heterosexual females and 25.5% of gay males in their study considered suicide vs. 10.6% of heterosexual males. They note that the lack of data for suicide risks among transgender adolescents is a limitation of the study. The authors conclude that the substantial suicide risks among sexual minority youth merits “a comprehensive reaction.” For clinicians, this should include discussions about sexual orientation with adolescent patients and the allocation of appropriate mental health resources, in addition to watching for signs of suicide risk behavior among their sexual minority adolescent patients.

You can access the full text of the study in JAMA here: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2666491