Risk of Gay Suicide Attempts Lower In Supportive Communities

Suicide attempts by gay teenagers are five times higher than those of heterosexual teenagers, reports a newly published online study in the journal Pediatrics. Gay teenagers who lived in areas where schools had gay-straight alliances or where a higher proportion of gay and lesbian couples lived were less likely to attempt suicide than their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) counterparts in politically conservative communities.

In the study, between 4 and 5 percent of teenagers surveyed identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Of those teens, 22 out of every hundred answered they had attempted suicide in the past year. That statistic is compared with the 4 of every hundred teens who identified as straight and answered that they had attempted suicide.

Mark Hatzenbuehler, the study’s author, made the correlation between suicide attempts by gay teenagers and the factors that make up their support system. He said that while previous studies showed the number of attempted suicides were higher for gay students, they had not revealed the reasons behind the suicide attempts.

Hatzenbuehler said the results showed that by making a few changes to school policies in anti-gay bullying and by allowing gay-straight alliance student groups, communities can improve the environment for their GLBT students.

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