Tuesday, 11 June 2013

JUST PUBLISHED: Sexuality and Suicide - Call for a More Nuanced Approach

The evidence that sexual minorities (e.g., lesbians, gay males, bisexuals, and those questioning their sexuality: LGBQ) are at increased risk of suicide is fairly robust. This study (anonymous, online survey, N = 1,016), as several others, found LGBQ participants were more likely to meet standardized assessment criteria for suicide-risk.

Knowing which groups are at increased risk of suicide provides great help for outreach, treatment and prevention. Unfortunately, some may view at-risk groups in a tick box manner, recognizing the risk but not looking for nuances in risk behaviors. This study was the first to methodically compare suicide-risk heterosexuals with suicide-risk LGBQ.

Matched pairs analyses compared suicide-risk LGBQ and suicide-risk heterosexuals (n = 79; aged 18 – 76) on suicidal behaviors (i.e., ideation, attempts, disclosure of suicidal intent, and prediction of future suicide). As shown in previous research, LGBQ reported greater likelihood to disclose their suicidal intent. LGBQ also reported more suicide attempts and were more likely to predict future attempts. However, the two groups showed no statistically significant differences on suicidal ideation. Ideation was assessed through current wish to die, past year ideation, and through engagement in an internal debate on whether to live or die (lifetime).

This study demonstrated the necessity of assessing suicide risk beyond thoughts, and looking at a more complete scenario of risk behaviors. This study showed that looking beyond the tick box label of “high risk” can yield important and interesting details of how a group can be at increased risk.

For more information, please see the following journal article:

Harris, K. (2013). Sexuality and Suicidality: Matched-Pairs Analyses Reveal Unique Characteristics in Non-Heterosexual Suicidal Behaviors Archives of Sexual Behavior DOI: 10.1007/s10508-013-0112-2

or email Keith.Harris@newcastle.edu.au