What’s unique about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth and young adult suicides? Findings from the National Violent Death Reporting System
The purpose of the study was to explore variability in circumstances around suicide deaths among youth and young adults by sexual/gender identity category (gay male, lesbian/gay female, bisexual male, bisexual female, transgender male, transgender female, non-LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] male, and non-LGBT female).
Secondary analysis of National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) data for all 12- to 29-year-olds who died by suicide in NVDRS participating states. Coverage begins in 2013, the year that NVDRS began coding for sexual orientation and transgender status, and ends in 2015, the latest year of NVDRS data available. The valid sample was limited to cases in which sexual orientation or transgender status could be determined postmortem, n = 2,209.
Almost one quarter (24%) of 12- to 14-year-olds who died by suicide were LGBT, whereas only 8% of 25- to 29-year-olds who died by suicide were LGBT. Most non-LGBT males and bisexual males died by firearm and had intimate partner problems contribute to their deaths. Non-LGBT females and LGBT persons other than bisexual males were generally less likely to use firearms. They were also more likely to have psychiatric diagnoses, prior suicidality, and family problems contributing to their deaths. Rates of many circumstances varied widely among LGBT subgroups.
The LGBT versus non-LGBT suicide disparity is greatest at younger ages, and each LGBT subgroup has its own specific risk profile for suicide. Suicide prevention and intervention efforts targeted at LGBT youth may increase their effectiveness by attending to these distinct risk profiles.