LGB teens are four times more likely to be suicidal than their straight friends

A new study has revealed that lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning teens are at least four times more likely to be suicidal than their heterosexual peers.

The research in the Journal of Adolescent Health investigated how sexual orientation and traumatic experiences affect suicidal feelings and attempts in teenagers.

The study asked questions to 5,000 students from 97 high schools in Nevada, United States.

A risk of suicide was linked with childhood experiences of trauma, known as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

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These traumatic experiences included sexual assault, domestic violence and physical harm from a parent.

The study discovered that LGB people without traumatic experiences were four times more likely to be suicidal or have attempted suicide than their heterosexual peers.

The study also found that LGB and questioning people were more likely to have experienced trauma or significant upset in their childhoods.

Over 50% of LGB students said they had been through two or more traumatic incidents, compared to around 25% of heterosexual students.

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LGB and questioning students with one incident of trauma were nearly seven times more likely to be suicidal than heterosexual students with one incident.

Related: Suicide risk five times higher for less educated gay and bisexual men, study finds

LGB students who had three or more significant traumatic experiences were 14 times more likely to think about suicide or be suicidal than heterosexual students.

Kristen Clements-Nolle of the University of Nevada, the lead author on the study, highlighted the need for research on teen suicide in a statement to Reuters Health.

She said: “It is imperative that we identify adolescent populations at greatest risk to guide our prevention efforts.

“Furthermore, cumulative exposure to ACEs greatly increased suicide risk behaviours among sexual minority adolescents.

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She continued: “for example, compared with heterosexual students with no exposure to ACEs, LGB/not sure students with two or more ACEs had approximately 13 times higher odds of attempting suicide in the past year.”

This research echoes a similar study in 2014, which found that LGB people were 3.8 times more likely to attempt to take their own lives, and 3.2 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or to self-harm.

The 2014 study discovered that lesbian and bisexual girls are more likely to report planning suicide, having suicidal thoughts and self-harming than their male peers.

Bisexual and lesbian girls were approximately half as likely to have been treated by a medical professional as a result of a suicide attempt.

Neither of the 2014 or 2017 studies investigated transgender, genderqueer or intersex youths.

A study conducted by the National Centre for Transgender Equality in 2016 found that of the 17,715 transgender people surveyed, 40% had attempted suicide.