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Preventing Suicide among LGBT People

Haas, A. P., Eliason, M., Mays, V. M., Mathy, R. M., Cochran, S. D., D’Augelli, A. R., et al. (2011). Suicide and suicide risk in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations: Review and recommendations. Journal of Homosexuality, 58(1), 10-51.

A consensus panel of experts convened by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association recently released the results of a three-year project to understand and address suicide risk among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The panel conducted a thorough review of the research and concluded that while there is strong evidence that rates of suicide attempts and suicide ideation are significantly higher among LGBT people than their heterosexual peers, the absence of reliable data makes it impossible to accurately compare the LGBT suicide rate with that of heterosexuals.

The panel’s review of the research also revealed that LGBT people are at elevated risk for mental disorders associated with suicidality, including depression and substance abuse disorders. The panel concluded that there was a consensus among researchers that “at least part of the explanation for the elevated rates of suicide attempts and mental disorders found in LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) people is the social stigma, prejudice, and discrimination associated with minority sexual orientation.”

The panel’s research recommendations include expanding funding for research on LGBT suicide and suicide risk; improving the manner in which sexual orientation and gender identity is defined and recorded in suicide and mental health research; and additional research on both suicide risk and resiliency in specific LGBT groups (defined by sexual orientation, gender identify, and age).

Read the report at www.afsp.org.