Gender minority youth more likely to know someone who has attempted suicide
Many young teenagers, especially gender minority youth, know someone who has attempted suicide, according to a study, which found that youths’ exposure to suicidal behavior was related to higher levels of depressed mood.
Kimberly J. Mitchell, PhD, a research assistant professor in the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, and colleagues assessed data from 3,979 teenagers aged 14 and 15 years who were recruited between October 2018 and August 2019 for Growing up with Media, a national longitudinal survey. The cohort included an over sampling of sexual- and gender-minority (SGM) youth.
Youth were categorized into one of six groups based on their sexual and gender identities — cisgender heterosexual male, cisgender sexual-minority male, cisgender heterosexual female, cisgender sexual-minority female, gender minority assigned male at birth (AMAB) and gender minority assigned female at birth (AFAB).
According to the authors, the proportion of respondents with a lifetime exposure to suicidal behavior — knowing someone who has attempted or died by suicide — ranged from a low of 31.5% among cisgender heterosexual male youth, to a high of 66.1% for gender minority AFAB youth. Additionally, all SGM youth were significantly more likely to have someone close to them engage in suicidal behavior than heterosexual male youth.
More youth identifying as mixed race reported exposure to suicidal behavior (53.7%) than youth who reported being any other race.
There also was a higher percentage of youth who lived in homes with lower than average family incomes (60.9%) who reported exposure to suicidal behavior compared with those living in higher than average income homes (39.1%), as well as similar to average income homes (46.9%).
Overall, 14.3% of all youth reported having a high level of social support. However, differences in high levels of social support in the context of exposure to suicidal behavior were seen across identities.
Those who reported exposure to suicidal behaviors but had less social support ranged from 26.7% among cisgender heterosexual males to 57.5% for gender minority AFAB. Although exposure to suicidal behavior by youth who had a high level of social support ranged from 4.8% for cisgender heterosexual males to 13.9% for gender minority AMAB.
“Compared to cisgender heterosexual male youth, more youth with each of the other sexual and gender identities reported recent depressed mood,” the authors wrote.
Respondents in the gender minority AFAB youth group reported the highest levels of depressed moods at 85.7%.
“Although findings need to be replicated, suicide prevention efforts should carefully consider how to promote resilience among these youth who may themselves be at risk for suicidal ideation and other mental health concerns,” the authors wrote.