Substantial recent increases in the percentage of teens and young adults reporting they are not heterosexual were accompanied by a decline in suicide attempts among sexual minority youth, survey data indicated.
The proportion of adolescents disclosing a minority sexual orientation in 2017 was 14.3%, up from 7.3% in 2009, according to survey data.
During the same period, suicide attempts declined among sexual minority as well as heterosexual youth (-0.8 percentage points per year, 95% CI -1.4 to -0.2), reported Julia Raifman, ScD, of Boston University School of Public Health in Massachusetts, and colleagues in Pediatrics.
Nevertheless, sexual minorities were still significantly more likely than heterosexual youth to attempt suicide in every year of the study (adjusted odds ratios 3.8-5.2).
“While we might have thought of sexual minorities as a small subset of the population, now they represent 14%,” Raifman said, adding that these increasing numbers should spur the creation of LGBTQ-specific mental health and educational programs.
Moreover, suicidal ideation and behaviors among LGBTQ teens have been markedly high since 1995, according to another study published in Pediatrics.
Compared to their heterosexual peers, sexual minority youth reported higher levels of suicidal ideation (49.9% vs 25.1%), plans (40.8% vs 18.1%), and attempts (35.6% vs 9%) in 1995, which decreased but remained elevated over time such that by 2017, from 12.8%-35.6% of LGBTQ adolescents reported suicidal ideation and behaviours, reported Richard Liu, PhD, of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and colleagues.
“What we see here is the rates of suicidal ideation and behaviours are really high among sexual minority youth and the decline has been very small in this group,” Liu said.