Mental Health and Suicidality Among Racially/Ethnically Diverse Sexual Minority Youths

By Wendy B. Bostwick, Ilan Meyer, Frances Aranda, Stephen Russell, Tonda Hughes, Michelle Birkett, Brian Mustanski
July 2014

Sexual minority youth had higher prevalence than heterosexual youth of each of the six outcomes studied, including self-harm, feeling sad, and suicide ideation, planning, and attempts. The study shows that 22.8 percent of sexual minority youth compared with 6.6 percent of heterosexual youth had attempted suicide in the year prior to being surveyed. The study also assesses the seriousness of the suicide attempt.  It shows that when considering only serious suicide attempts—defined as attempts that resulted in injury that required treatment by a medical professional—the 1-year prevalence was much higher (8.3%) for sexual minority youth compared with heterosexual youth (2%). Notably, the odds of suicide ideation, planning, and attempt among sexual minority youth varied by race/ethnicity: compared with White sexual minority youth, Latino and American Native/Pacific Islander sexual minorities had higher prevalence of suicide attempts; Black and Asian sexual minority youth fared better than White sexual minority youth on a number of outcomes (e.g., suicide ideation and suicide plan).

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, pooled together probability samples of public school youths from the 2005 and 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Surveys (YRBSs). The project was supported, in part, by a grant to the Center for Population Research in LGBT Health, The Fenway Institute.

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Click here for the press release.

*Article published in the American Journal of Public Health