Gay, queer teens four times more likely to attempt suicide, survey finds

There has been a startling rise in U.S. suicide rates, but LGBQ teens may be more at risk than other groups, according to a new report.

To do so, they surveyed 16,000 youth in 2015, and the questionnaire focused on topics including sexuality and mental health.

Overall, 89 percent of the participants said they were heterosexual. About two percent identified as gay or lesbian and six percent were bisexual. About 3.2 percent said they were questioning or unsure.

After analyzing the results, they found that lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning teens were more than four times as likely to attempt suicide.

In fact, about 25 percent of LGBQ teens said they attempted suicide at least once within the last year, compared to just six percent of heterosexual youth.

Furthermore, 40 percent of LGBQ youth said they seriously considered suicide and 35 percent of LGBQ kids had actually planned a suicide, compared to 15 and 12 percent of heterosexual teens, respectively.

Researchers lacked data on gender identity or transgender youth, who may have an even higher risk of suicide than gay and bisexual teens.

When they took a closer look at the data, they discovered the risk for LGBQ males was even higher. Nearly 39 percent of bisexual boys had considered suicide.

"There have been some indications that LGBQ youth face increased suicide risks, yet many believed the jury was still out," coauthor John Ayers said in a statement. "Our study yields a clear verdict: LGBQ youth face staggeringly high suicide risks."

Researchers now hope their findings help bring about change. They are encouraging health, political and social leaders to create strategies to help combat the issue.

"Our work has identified a serious problem, but fortunately decades of science and experience can be leveraged to address LGBQ youth's suicide risk," Ayers said. "Now is the time to act."

Theodore L. Caputi
Theodore L. Caputi
Economics & Health Researcher

My research interests include public health, health innovation, and health care.