Societal Support Lowers Suicide Among Gay Youth

Lesbian, gay, bisexual teens in negative social environments more likely to attempt suicide

MONDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- A negative social environment increases the risk of suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth, independent of individual-level risk factors, according to a study published online April 18 in Pediatrics.

Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, Ph.D., from Columbia University in New York City, investigated how the social environment surrounding LGB youth contributes to suicide attempt rates among this population, independent of individual-level risk factors for suicide attempts. A total of 1,413 LGB 11th-grade students who completed the Oregon Healthy Teens (OHT) survey in 2006 to 2008 were included in the analysis. The researchers created a composite index of the social environments in 34 counties, incorporating the proportion of same-sex couples, registered Democrats, Gay-Straight Alliances, and schools with antibullying and antidiscrimination policies specifically protecting LGB students. The number of times the participants attempted suicide in the previous 12 months was recorded.

The investigators found that, compared to heterosexuals, LGB youth were significantly more likely to attempt suicide (21.5 percent for LGB youth versus 4.2 percent for heterosexuals). After controlling for sociodemographic variables and multiple risk factors for suicide attempts, including peer victimization, physical abuse by an adult, depressive symptoms, and binge drinking, a more supportive social environment was found to be significantly associated with fewer suicide attempts (odds ratio, 0.97).

"The current study demonstrated that characteristics of the social environment increase risk for suicide attempts among LGB youth, over and above individual-level risk factors," the author writes.

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Physician's Briefing

Updated on June 06, 2022

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