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Gay teenagers at five times more risk of suicides: Study

Published Dec 20, 2017

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Durban - Gay teenagers were almost five times as likely to show a higher prevalence for suicide-risk behaviour than their heterosexual peers, a research has showed.

The findings showed that one in four or 40 per cent of gay, lesbian, bisexual or questioning (LGBQ) adolescents seriously considered, planned or attempted suicide compared to 15 per cent of their heterosexual counterparts. 

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Nearly a quarter of LGBQ adolescents attempted suicide compared to approximately six per cent of those in the sexual majority.

"The most staggering finding, the one that really makes you think, is just how prevalent these suicide-risk behaviours are in the LGBQ adolescent community," said Theodore L. Caputi, from the University College Cork in Ireland. 

"Research has shown that suicide-risk behaviours are an indicator of extreme distress," added Caputi, who was formerly in the University of Pennsylvania.

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Further, variations in risk between those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer were also observed. 

While female students were overall at the highest risks of suicidal thoughts or attempts, but the gap between risks for gay males and straight males was the widest. 

Nearly one-third of bisexual adolescents reported attempting suicide in the past 12 months, and 46 per cent had considered it. 

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"There are clearly differences in how sexual-minority adolescents experience the world," Caputi said. 

"External stressors like stigma and isolation are significant contributing factors, and those weigh on members of these high-risk communities."

For the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the team surveyed 15,624 high-school age participants. 

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"The goal is to decrease the stressors that cause LGBQ adolescents to contemplate suicide in the first place. We're hoping our study will inspire social and policy changes that lead to happier and healthier lives for LGBQ adolescents," Caputi said. 

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