Young gay men are six times more likely to attempt suicide than their older counterparts, according to a new study.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine also say gay and bisexual men under 26 are more than twice as likely to be depressed or anxious than those aged over 45.
“Our study showed that among gay and bisexual men, age and ethnicity had a significant impact on mental health, as did income and education. This is possibly because men are better able to cope with homophobia the older they are, or if they are relatively privileged in other areas of their lives,” says study author Dr Ford Hickson.
Young LGBT people are at highest risk of self-harm when coming out to family and friends.
“LGBT youth do not kill themselves because they are gay. Most LGBT youth consider suicide in response to bullying, discrimination, homophobia, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, violence, gender nonconformity, low self-esteem and societal and family rejection,” says the official suicide prevention policy of Western Michigan University.
Mental health advocates say policies like the one at Western Michigan should be adopted by schools around the world.
Need for role models
Late last year, the openly gay chief executive of Apple, Tim Cook, revealed the problem of youth suicide helped convince him to speak about his sexuality.
“It became increasingly clear to me that if I said something that it could help other people. And I’m glad, because I think that some kid somewhere, some kid in Alabama, I think if they just for a moment stop and say if it didn’t limit Tim Cook, it may not limit me,” he said.
“I’ve gotten notes from people contemplating suicide, so if I can help just one of those people, it’s worth. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without doing it.”