Rates of suicide attempts are highest among younger ages and women, and especially elevated among sexual minorities (lesbian, gay, and bisexual [LGB] people). We examined the prevalence of lifetime suicide ideation among sexual minorities and sought to determine whether this relationship depended on age and gender.
Using data from the Annual Component of the 2015–2016 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), participants were asked whether they had seriously contemplated suicide (lifetime suicidal ideation: yes/no). In adjusted multiple logistic regression analyses, we entered a sexual orientation by gender and age (three-way) interaction.
There was evidence of an interaction between sexual orientation, gender, and age on lifetime suicidal ideation (Wald χ2: p = 0.009); the strength of the relationship between sexual orientation and suicidal ideation varied by gender and age. Lesbian/gay and bisexual respondents of both genders were more likely to report suicidal ideation across the life span, when compared to heterosexuals. This finding was strongest for bisexual respondents.
The results highlight the relevance of sexual orientation as a social determinant of lifetime suicidal ideation. Suicide prevention and surveillance efforts should take into consideration that sexual minorities, especially bisexual persons, disproportionately consider harming themselves when compared to the heterosexual population.