One Third of LGBT Youth Have Attempted Suicide

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Teens

gay suicide

People participate in a candlelight vigil for Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide in September. Credit: Reena Rose Sibayan, AP

It may get better, but for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, it's still really hard: A third of them have attempted suicide in their lifetimes, according to a new study.

The good news is that 70 percent of the LGBT youth in the study didn't meet the criteria for any mental disorders.

"One of the most important findings from our work is that most of these youth are doing very well and are not experiencing mental health problems," Dr. Brian Mustanski, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and lead author of the study, says in a statement.

Using the criteria set out in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, researchers at the UIC interviewed 246 ethnically diverse LGBT 16- to 20-year-olds to determine if they'd suffered from major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, conduct disorder or had attempted suicide, according to a report in the American Journal of Public Health.

Nearly 10 percent of the youth met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder and about 15 percent for major depression. A third of them had attempted suicide, and 6 percent had done so in the past year. While these are sobering numbers, and higher than those in national samples, the LGBT youth suffer these disorders at a similar rate to urban youth and those who are members of racial and ethnic minorities, the report states.

"The big question is, are these youth more likely to have mental disorders relative to other kids?" Mustanski says in the statement. "And the answer to that is that it really depends on who you're comparing them to."

Researchers also broke the youth into sub groups and found that bisexual youth were less likely to have the disorders than others in the study, the report says, adding that previous studies had shown the opposite.

Listen to an interview with Mutanski here.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.