A harrowing new mental health study has found that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people are more than twice as likely as heterosexual people to experience suicidal thoughts or self-harm.
The study, conducted by researchers at University College London (UCL) and published in the international journal Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology journal, surveyed 10,443 people aged 16 and over in England and found a higher likelihood of suicidal thoughts among lesbian and gay adults than heterosexual adults, as well as a higher likelihood of self-harm among LGB adults.
The survey also found that depression, anxiety and experiences of discrimination or bullying could contribute in part to these increased risks, with one in five lesbian or gay adults reporting experiencing homophobic discrimination in the past year.
The researchers found that even after accounting for increased risk of depression and anxiety, gay and lesbian adults were still more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to report having been suicidal in the past year.
The results, which analyzed data over a seven-year period, did not improve over the course of the study.
The UCL findings echo similar studies from the US, which also documented an increased risk of suicidal thoughts within the LGBTQ+ community.
“There is clearly a long way to go”
Lead author of the study, Dr Alexandra Pitman of UCL, said: While national surveys of British attitudes towards same-sex relationships suggest that society has become more tolerant of gay people, lesbian or bisexual, there is clearly a long way to go, as the mental health outcomes we were studying did not improve during our study period.
People with sexual minority identities continue to experience more discrimination and bullying than heterosexual people, and are also more likely to experience common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
First author, Garrett Kidd, added: Health services need to be improved to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ people, as some people may not feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation, which can hinder understanding their health needs. and social.
We also need to offer more mental health services specifically targeting LGBTQ+ people, ideally alongside community-based support.
The study focused on sexual orientation, with the researchers saying the upcoming survey will include questions about gender identity.
An earlier study by LGBTQ+ mental health charity The Trevor Project found that more than half of trans and non-binary youth have considered suicide in the past year.
Carrie Davis, chief community officer of The Trevor Project, explained that a record wave of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in America has led to reduced support for trans and non-binary youth, and that poor mental health could be due to how where LGBTQ+ people are mistreated in society at large.
We hope fellow researchers, lawmakers, youth-serving professionals and allies in every state will use this data to uplift LGBTQ youth and advocate for policies that celebrate and support them without further isolating them, Davis said.
Suicide is preventable. Readers interested in the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the United States are encouraged to contact theNational Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Readers interested in the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans free on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the United States are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
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