Resource: LGBT and Suicide Risk

15 Jan

Today I got my regular e-mail from Psychiatric Times and the subject was LGBT and suicide risk.  I found this article very informative with some great questions for professionals to ask at the end.  To see the full article: Impact of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity on Suicide Risk: Implications for Assessment and Treatment

Some quotes:

Because sexual orientation and gender identity are not systematically recorded at time of death, the number of LGBT deaths from suicide (or any other cause) is not known. This is a barrier to understanding and addressing LGBT suicide risk.

This is obviously a problem and some family members of people who have committed suicide may not release the sexual orientation of the victim.

There is strong evidence of elevated rates of suicide attempts in sexual minorities. Lifetime suicide attempts, on average, are 4-fold higher in gay and bisexual men, and twice as high in lesbian and bisexual women, compared with heterosexuals. Among adolescents, those who are LGB report making a lifetime suicide attempt at 3 times the rate of heterosexual youths. Moreover, LGB youths report 4 times as many medically serious attempts.

This speaks for itself.

Surveys of transgender adults likewise suggest high rates of suicidal behavior in gender minorities: lifetime suicide attempts have been reported by 25% to 43% of respondents. While the self-identified samples may not be representative of transgender populations as a whole, the consistency of survey findings suggests lifetime suicide attempts are likely more prevalent in transgender individuals than in the US general population, in which suicide attempts are reported by fewer than 5% of adults.

5% in the general population compared to 25-43% of Transgender adults, that is sad and chose that this population is vulnerable and needs to be addressed.

Meyer’s minority stress model attributes elevated rates of mental disorders and suicidal behavior in sexual minorities to greater exposure to prejudice, discrimination, and victimization as well as to internalization of negative social views.

I have mostly only experience the internalization of negative social views but that can be a huge thing for a person to deal with often refered to as internalized homophobia.

Concealment of sexual orientation (“closetedness”) because of anticipated stigma is also linked to mental health problems.

Hiding anything is hard but when it is a part of who you are it makes it even more difficult.  Also for many people the fears that cause the closetness are very real and possible if you were to come out.

Connectedness to sexual minority communities and positive sexual identity protect against suicidal behavior among LGB adults.22 Among youths, protective factors include family connectedness and acceptance; perceived caring of other adults; and school safety, acceptance, and peer support.

I know when I started going to the 20 something’s group that’s the only time I had felt a contectedness and I had only felt my sexuality was accepted in a few other places.   I wish all youth and even adults have access to a LGBT social and/or support group.

The following questions are worth thinking about when assessing suicidal risk in LGBT patients.

• Is the adolescent being bullied for gender atypical behavior?

• Has the adolescent been rejected after coming out to a family member or friend?

• Has the adolescent been thrown out of his or her home by unaccepting parents practicing “tough love”?

• Who should be contacted: the family or social services?

• Is a desperate transgender patient unable to access needed medical care for transition?

• Is a young adult’s suicidal ideation due to using “party drugs” or “club drugs?”

• If suicidal ideation is a response to a recent breakup, can the evaluator talk about same-sex relationships in a nonjudgmental way?

• Has someone “outed” (involuntarily revealed the sexual identity of) a closeted patient who does not want to be out?

• Is the patient so extremely “closeted” and self-loathing that he is socially isolated, with no gay friends?

• Is the patient engaging in unsuccessful “conversion therapy” in an attempt to change sexual orientation?

• Is the patient experiencing workplace harassment or does he live in a state that does not have antidiscrimination protections for LGBT people?

• Does the patient live in a state that forbids a legal relationship with a partner’s biological child?

• Are the parents of a transgender child receiving death threats?

All great questions I especially like the ones about being outed as well as if the suicide ideation is due to a break up can the evaluator (counselor, therapist, psychiatrist, etc)  talk about the relationship in a non-judgement way.

Can you think of any other important information that mental health providers of the LGBT community should know?

One Response to “Resource: LGBT and Suicide Risk”

  1. manyofus1980 January 16, 2015 at 6:34 AM #

    Reblogged this on Many of us, the insiders and commented:
    Great article here please read it!

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