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Suicide, a major public health concern, claims one American life every 12.3 minutes, with approximately 1.1 million attempts during a year. Considered to be the 10th leading cause of death nationwide, the suicide rate among American Indian/Alaska Native adolescents and young adults (aged 15-24) were 1.5 times that of the national average in the year 2016.
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Sexual Minority Teens More Likely to Consider Suicide, Finds Study
Suicide, a major public health concern, claims one American life every 12.3 minutes, with
approximately 1.1 million attempts during a year. Considered to be the 10th leading cause of
death nationwide, the suicide rate among American Indian/Alaska Native adolescents and
young adults (aged 15-24) were 1.5 times that of the national average in the year 2016.
Often linked to a diagnosable mental health illness or a substance use disorder, suicide
attempts among teens can also be associated with stress and self-doubt, loss and
disappointment, financial uncertainty and the pressure to succeed. Some of the risk factors
associated with suicide include exposure to trauma or violence, bullying and peer pressure,
sexual abuse, family history of suicide attempts as well as sexual orientation.
Teen years is a time
people start to discover
their sexual identity.
orientation and coming
to terms with their
sexuality can create a
lot of complications for
there is always the
pressure to confess
and talk openly, the
fear of being mocked
by friends and family,
and the inner turmoil that often leads a young child to believe that living is no longer of any
According to a recent study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
(JAMA) Network on Dec.19, 2017, the teens who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer
were 63 percent more likely to consider suicide than their heterosexual peers.
Increased risk of suicide among sexual minorities
The current study took into account the nationally representative survey of U.S. high school
students. The authors took data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s
(CDC’s) National Youth Behavioral Risk and used it to calculate the link between a teen’s
sexual orientation and suicidal thoughts or attempts. In the 2015 survey, 89 percent of the
study participants had identified themselves as heterosexual, 6 percent as bisexual, 2 percent
as gay or lesbian, while 3.2 were unsure about their sexual identity.
To examine the suicide risk, the participants were asked the times they had seriously
considered suicide, planned or tried to kill themselves in the past year. The results offered a
stark contrast between the two groups. As compared to 15 percent of heterosexual teens, 40
percent of sexual minority teens had considered suicide. Additionally, the researchers also
observed an increased risk of suicidal attempts with 35 percent of sexual minority teens
having made an attempt as compared to only 12 percent of heterosexual teens.
The increased risk was also evident in males and females separately. For instance, as
compared to heterosexual young women, lesbians were more than twice and bisexuals more
than three times likely to attempt suicide. Whereas, as compared to heterosexual males, gay
teens were more than four times and bisexuals more than five times as likely to attempt
Although the study did not look at the reasons behind suicide attempts among sexual minority
teens, some of the reasons that are identified as possible risk factors are a high risk of physical
bullying, social stigma, verbal harassment, discrimination and the underlying sense of
insecurity experienced at school. According to the researchers, it is imperative for parents,
clinicians and caregivers to discuss sexual orientation with children and provide all the
support. It is equally important for the policymakers to allocate appropriate mental health
resources to address the issue of suicide among sexual minority adolescents.
Teen suicide is preventable
While suicide risk factors may vary with age, gender, family dynamics and environmental
influences, parents, peers and school authorities can recognize the warning signs and take
immediate action to nip the problem in the bud. One can seek professional help from certified
child and youth mental health expertsand prevent the worse nightmare from coming true.
Getting help for your teens’ mental health disorders is possible by calling the Teen Mental
Health Helpline. A call at our 24/7 helpline (866) 831-9220 can connect you to the finest rehab
centers in your area that specialize in treating mental disorders among children. Get in touch
today for more information on outpatient or residential mental health facilities for