Understanding the processes underlying selfharm ideation and behaviors within LGBTQ+ young people: A qualitative study
Williams, A.J., Arcelus, J., Townsend, E., & Michail, M.
Objective: This study aims to understand the processes underlying self-harmful thoughts and behaviors, with and without suicidal intent, among LGBTQ+ young people.
Method: Nineteen semi-structured interviews took place between October 2019 and May 2020. Participants were aged between 16 and 25 years, had experiences of self-harm ideation and behaviors, and were part of the LGBTQ+ umbrella. A range of sexualities and gender identities were represented: eleven participants were cisgender, six were transgender and two were non-binary. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and anonymised. Thematic analysis and reflective member-checking were used to develop a thematic framework.
Results: Three themes were developed from the interviews and evaluated by four participants who engaged with reflective member-checking. Findings indicated that internal processes and external responses to being LGBTQ+ resulted in self-harmful thoughts and behaviors. Alongside these, additional stressors related to being a young person were led to difficulties with self-harm.
Conclusions: Findings from this study indicate that young people often struggle with accepting their LGBTQ+ identity for a number of reasons, whether this is due to access to a resource or their own feelings about their identity. These negative self-perceptions can be enhanced by poor responses from others and additional life stressors which impact their self-esteem or self-perception.