One in four queer youth attempt suicide in the US

One in four queer youth attempt suicide in the United States, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Authors Theodore Caputi, Davey Smith, and John Ayers studied nationally representative data from 2015 of ‘sexual minority adolescents’. For the purpose of their research, they defined ‘sexual minority’ as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning (LGBQ).

Based on a nationwide survey of almost 16,000 youth, 24.9% of LGBQ participants said they attempted suicide at least once in the past year. Researchers compared this to 6.3% of heterosexual teens.

Furthermore, LGBQ teens were almost twice as likely to consider suicide (40% compared to 14.8%) and plan suicide (34.9% compared to 11.9%).

The disparity among statistics paralleled the same lines when divided by gender (lesbians compared to heterosexual women, for example) and subgroup (lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, and questioning people individually compared to heterosexuals).

A public health crisis

Ayers spoke to Reuters Health and called the statistical risks ‘staggeringly high’.

He went as far as to call it a public health crisis. ‘We must recognize LGBQ teen suicide is a national public health crisis and bring extraordinary resources to bear to address the crisis,’ he said.

The report further notes it is ‘limited by the lack of data for suicide risks among transgender adolescents’. Plus, its ‘60% response rate … may limit generalizability’.

However, despite the limits, this study is important. Its general idea is nothing new, but the study’s contemporary position and nationwide breadth offers a better look at this epidemic.

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