A new study out of the United States has revealed that as many as one in four gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers are likely to attempt suicide.
In the research letter which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, has confirmed that LGB youth are at a much higher risk of suicide than heterosexual teens.
Using data from the 2015 National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey, which surveyed 16,000 teens throughout the United States, 89 percent identified as heterosexual, two percent as homosexual, six percent as bisexual and just over three percent as unsure of their sexual orientation.
The study showed that 40 percent of LGB teens considered suicide, 35 percent had planned suicide, while 25 percent had attempted suicide, as opposed to heterosexual teens, of which 15 percent had considered suicide, 12 percent had planned suicide, and six percent had attempted suicide.
The study also highlighted that bisexual teens the most at-risk, with a staggering 46 percent having considered suicide in the year 2015 alone.
Similarly, a 2016 UK study also found that young gay and bisexual men were six times more likely to attempt suicide or self-harm in comparison to men in the same age group.
John Ayers, who is a researcher at San Diego State University, is not surprised by the findings and says, “We must recognise LGBTQ teen suicide is a national public health crisis and bring extraordinary resources to bear to address the crisis.”
With the American Medical Association study not being conducted with the intention to determine whether sexual orientation had an influence on suicide risk, The U.S. researchers did not include information regarding gender identity or transgender youth, which also may have increased suicide risk greatly.
University of Chicago sociologist, Anna Mueller, argues that the fear of a negative reaction from family and friends can have a major impact on the mental health of LGBTQ teens.
“Only when we provide them with a climate that does that will we begin to see suicidality drop off in this vulnerable population,” Mueller explained.
Kimberly McManama, a psychiatry researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, agrees with Mueller saying that parents need to speak with their children about sexual and gender identity at an early age.