Although gay, lesbian, and bisexual (LGB) people are known to be at greater risk of mental health issues and suicide, few previous studies have examined the differences in risk for different LGB groups.
Suicide risk among the wider LGB community differs depending on factors such as gender, age, and race, according to the National Institute of Mental Health study.
The United States study used data from more than 190,000 people, including over 14,000 LGB people.
Survey participants answered questions about their sexual identity and other demographic factors, as well as any suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts over the last year.
The researchers found that the overall suicide risk was three to six times higher for LGB people than for heterosexuals across every age group and race or ethnicity.
Black women showed a lower risk of suicidal thoughts and planning compared to white women.
The finding that bisexual women were at higher risk applied to Black and white women.
Among gay and bisexual men, the study found no differences in suicide risk by race.
Up to 17% of men had considered suicide in the last year, and around 2% had made an attempt.
Among all LGB women, up to 20% had thought of suicide, and around 3% had made an attempt.
The researchers emphasised that the data from this study cannot suggest the causation of the differences in suicide risk.
“This study demonstrates the importance of asking about sexual identity in national data collection efforts, and it highlights the pressing need for suicide prevention services that address the specific experiences and needs of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults of different genders, ages, and race and ethnic groups,” said lead author Dr Rajeev Ramchand.
“This study sets the stage for future work investigating the impact of social inequalities on suicide risk among people with multiple social identities.”
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