Suicide attempts more likely among adolescents with same-sex sexual orientation

המידע באדיבות מדיקונטקסט
Last Updated: 2001-07-31 16:01:08 EDT (Reuters Health)

By Steven Reinberg

WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) – Adolescent boys and girls with a same-sex sexual orientation are twice as likely to attempt suicide compared with other adolescents, according to a report in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

"We find that there is a strong link between same-sex sexual orientation and adolescent suicidal thought and attempts," Dr. Stephen T. Russell, from the University of California at Davis, told Reuters Health.

Using data from the Add Health Study, Dr. Russell and his colleague, Dr. Kara Joyner from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, evaluated a national sample of 6254 adolescent girls and 5686 adolescent boys. Approximately 7% of these subjects reported having a same-sex romantic attraction or relationship.

When Drs. Russell and Joyner looked at the 458 youths who reported a suicide attempt, they found that approximately 15% reported having a same-sex sexual orientation. Both males and females who reported a same-sex orientation were more likely than other adolescents to report suicidal thoughts (odds ratio 1.68 for males; 2.14 for females) and suicide attempts (odds ratio 2.45 for males and 2.48 for females).

This risk has to be viewed within the context of the general risk factors for adolescent suicide, Dr. Russell said, which include substance abuse, depression, hopelessness, and the suicide attempt of a family member or friend. These risk factors, he added, largely explain the increased suicide risk among these adolescents.

"Gay kids are at risk of suicide not just because they are gay, but because of the other things that are going on in their lives," Dr. Russell stressed. "Being gay just puts these kids at greater risk for other known risk factors for suicide, because for many of these gay kids their school, home and social environments are compromised."

Dr. Russell believes physicians need to be aware of the risks associated with same-sex sexual orientation and to be comfortable in counseling these adolescents.

Am J Public Health 2001;91:1276-1281.

-Westport Newsroom 203 319 2700

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