New Study Highlights Differences Between Suicides Among LGB and Straight People

Note: This article may contain potential suicide triggers. If you are in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, you can call the 24/7 TrevorLifeline at 866-488-7386.

A new study comparing suicide among gay and straight people has found differences both in likelihood and means, reported Gay Star News.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, analyzed more than 120,000 deaths by suicide from 2003 to 2014. It is thought to be the largest study to examine suicide among the gay community.

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual teenagers were found to be five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. They were also more likely to have been diagnosed with a mental health condition and have a history of suicidal thoughts or plans. Gay and lesbian individuals were also more likely to have reported “depressed mood” or “problems and arguments” with their partners.

Differences among LGB and straight people were also found in regard to the “most commonly used mechanism of injury.” Straight men were most likely to use firearms and straight women were more likely to use poison, while gay men were likeliest to use “hanging/strangulation/suffocation” (38%) and lesbian women were likely to use either “hanging/strangulation/suffocation” (36%) or firearms (35%).

The authors suggest that the differences seen “may be linked in part to minority stress and discrimination.” Because “some mental health providers may lack knowledge and awareness of issues (i.e., stigma and homophobia) that may be pertinent to many gender and sexual minority patients,” the authors hope these findings will result in more tailored suicide prevention.

“Suicide prevention programs developed or tailored for LGBT individuals can consider the risk factors that are most salient to the targeted population,” the study said, “and how these factors may differ from non-LGBT individuals.”