HomeHealthSexual minorities, suicide, self-harm: new analysis in England Receive US

Sexual minorities, suicide, self-harm: new analysis in England Receive US

Lesbian, Homosexual, and Bisexual (LGB) people (typically termed ‘sexual minorities’) are at elevated threat of experiencing despair, anxiousness, and substance dependence compared to heterosexuals (King et al., 2008; Plöderl & Tremblay, 2015), findings which lengthen to these figuring out with different sexual minority identities (e.g., pansexual; Borgogna et al., 2019; Feinstein et al., 2023). This disparity is usually defined by Meyer’s (2003) minority stress mannequin, which implicates the distinctive extra stressors that sexual minorities face on account of their minority identification (e.g., discrimination as a result of sexual identification, internalised homophobia).

Analysis additionally means that LGB people are at elevated threat of suicide makes an attempt (King et al., 2008), and a Psychological Elf weblog by Talen Wright summarises a evaluate by Dunlop et al. (2020) displaying that bisexual people are at elevated threat of participating with Non-Suicidal Self-Hurt (NSSH). Analysis has additionally demonstrated that homosexual males and lesbians often cite their sexual orientation as partially or wholly the motive for self-harming (King et al., 2003).

Systematic opinions have recognized gaps within the literature relating to our data of sexual minorities within the UK, suicidality, and self-harm. Garrett Kidd et al. (2023) got down to overcome weaknesses of earlier literature on this space (e.g., low statistical energy, not adjusting for cofounders), with the intention of describing the proportion, traits, and associations between sexual orientation teams within the UK and self-harm and suicidality.

Research suggests that LGB individuals are at increased risk of suicide and self-harm, although less is known about this in the context of the UK population.

Analysis means that lesbian, homosexual and bisexual people are at elevated threat of suicide and self-harm, though much less is thought about this within the context of the UK inhabitants.


Kidd et al. (2023) carried out a secondary evaluation of the Grownup Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys (APMS), combining the 2007 and 2014 survey years. APMS “makes use of a stratified, multistage random sampling design” to create a consultant pattern of the 16+ inhabitants residing in non-public households in England, with information collected utilizing computer-assisted face-to-face interviewing and computer-based self-interviewing for delicate questions (e.g., sexuality, suicide).

For the present research, all members with sexuality information accessible had been included, which resulted in a pattern of 10,443 folks aged 16-64. Sexual orientation was outlined barely in a different way between survey years, so the authors “harmonised” the info to create 4 classes:

  1. Heterosexual and primarily heterosexual (reference group)
  2. Bisexual
  3. Lesbian/homosexual and primarily gay
  4. Different

The authors investigated the affiliation of sexuality with lifetime Non-Suicidal Self-Hurt (NSSH), past-year suicide try, and past-year suicidal ideas, adjusting for potential confounders (e.g., age, widespread psychological dysfunction, gender, survey yr). In addition they examined for potential mediation by minority stress variables.


Of the ten,443 members:

  • 10,016 recognized as heterosexual and primarily heterosexual (96.0%)
  • 116 recognized as bisexual (1.1%)
  • 163 recognized as lesbian/homosexual and primarily gay (1.5%)
  • 148 recognized as different (1.5%)

Males represented the vast majority of those that recognized as lesbian/homosexual (69.6%), while a bigger proportion of females recognized as bisexual (72.5%).

For the minority stress variables, the lesbian/homosexual group had the best prevalence of a historical past of bullying victimisation (51.7%) in comparison with people figuring out as bisexual (47.5%), heterosexual/primarily heterosexual (25.3%), and different (22.9%). The prevalence of past-year discrimination as a result of sexual orientation was additionally highest within the homosexual/lesbian group (23.2%), adopted by these figuring out as bisexual (9.4%), different (2.7%) then heterosexual/primarily heterosexual (0.3%).

Suicidality and self-harm prevalence

The prevalence of suicidal ideas, suicide try, and Non-Suicidal Self-Hurt (NSSH) was highest within the bisexual group, with 47.0% of this group reporting lifetime suicidal ideas, 24.1% reporting a lifetime suicide try, and 26.9% reporting lifetime NSSH.

For all suicidality and self-harm outcomes, heterosexual people had the bottom prevalence (excluding past-week suicidal ideas, and past-week suicide try, the place there have been no variations).

Desk 1. The proportion (%) of every sexual orientation group reporting suicidal ideas and suicide try (past-week, past-year, and lifelong) and NSSH (lifetime)

Consequence variableHeterosexual / primarily heterosexualBisexualLesbian / homosexual / primarily gayDifferentp worth
Suicidal ideas, past-week (%)
Suicidal ideas, past-year (%)5.013.411.48.8< .001
Suicidal ideas, lifetime (%)16.747.036.718.4< .001
Suicide try, past-week (%)<
Suicide try, past-year (%)< .001
Suicide try, lifetime (%)5.424.115.28.9< .001
NSSH, lifetime (%)5.326.915.29.4< .001

Sexuality and past-year suicidal ideas

Relative to heterosexuals, homosexual/lesbian people had larger odds of experiencing suicidal ideas previously yr (OR = 2.47, 95% CI 1.37 to 4.48), even after controlling for socio-demographic elements and CMD (OR = 2.20, 95% CI 1.08 to 4.50). These elevated odds remained when adjusting for socio-demographic elements, CMD, and discrimination (OR = 2.20, 95% CI 1.04 to 4.64), however decreased when adjusting for bullying (p > .05).

Bisexual people additionally confirmed elevated odds of experiencing past-year suicidal ideas relative to heterosexuals (OR = 2.95, 95% CI 1.60 to five.45). These elevated odds remained after adjusting for socio-demographic elements (OR = 2.37, 95% CI 1.28 to 4.38), however not after adjusting for each socio-demographic elements and CMD (p > .05).

Sexuality and past-year suicide try

Bisexual people (however no different sexual minority group) had greater odds of reporting a past-year suicide try relative to heterosexuals (OR = 6.23, 95% CI 2.10 to 18.53), together with after adjusting for socio-demographic elements (OR = 3.95, 95% CI 1.23 to 12.72). Nonetheless, this grew to become non-significant after adjusting for each socio-demographic elements and CMD (p > .05).

Sexuality and lifelong NSSH

Relative to heterosexuals, the bisexual group (OR = 6.61, 95% CI 4.14 to 10.56) and the lesbian/homosexual group (OR = 3.20, 95% CI 2.00 to five.11) had greater odds of reporting lifetime NSSH. This was barely attenuated for each teams, however continued to be important, after controlling for socio-demographic elements, widespread psychological dysfunction, discrimination based mostly on sexual orientation, and historical past of bullying.

Interactions with gender and survey yr

There was no proof to counsel that results had been modified by gender or by survey yr.

Individuals identifying as bisexual or lesbian/gay were 6 times and 3 times more likely, respectively, to report lifetime non-suicidal self-harm.

People figuring out as bisexual or lesbian/homosexual had been 6 occasions and three occasions extra probably, respectively, to report lifetime non-suicidal self-harm.


On this population-based research, lesbian/homosexual and bisexual people had been at elevated threat of lifetime Non-Suicidal Self-Hurt (NSSH) and past-year suicidal ideas, relative to heterosexuals.

The elevated threat of NSSH in each lesbian/homosexual and bisexual people was barely attenuated (however remained important) for each teams when adjusting for widespread psychological dysfunction (CMD), discrimination based mostly on sexual orientation, and bullying, suggesting these elements could play a task within the elevated threat skilled by these teams. Compared, outcomes confirmed that the elevated threat of suicidal ideas and past-year suicide try for bisexual people decreased when adjusting for CMD, suggesting that CMD could also be a key element on this threat.

Lastly, these disparities continued over the interval 2007-2014, regardless of the introduction of recent protections for sexual minorities (e.g., The Equality Act, 2010), suggesting that these new protections have had no constructive impression on suicidality and NSSH outcomes for sexual minorities.

Disparities in suicidality and self-harm outcomes experienced by LGB individuals have persisted over the period 2007-2014, despite the introduction of new protections for sexual minorities.

Disparities in suicidality and self-harm outcomes skilled by LGB people have continued over the interval 2007-2014, regardless of the introduction of recent protections for sexual minorities.

Strengths and limitations

That is the primary population-based research within the UK to research the associations between sexual orientation, suicidal ideas, suicide try, and Non-Suicidal Self-Hurt (NSSH). By combing two pattern years, the research has a massive pattern, giving the research greater statistical energy relative to different research and subsequently strengthening the reliability of the findings. This paper additionally makes use of validated measures to research a number of aspects of self-harm and suicidality, permitting us to exactly perceive the place sexual minorities expertise elevated threat.

Nonetheless, there are some limitations associated to the research’s design:

  • The research relied on members defining solely their sexual orientation, however there’s rising recognition that people can establish as heterosexual, while additionally reporting same-sex sights and/or behaviours. There’s proof that implies that the variety of folks figuring out as heterosexual and reporting same-sex sights and/or behaviours could also be comparable, and even bigger, than the quantity who establish as LGB (Hoy & London, 2018; Krueger et al., 2018; Gattis et al., 2012).
  • Some analysis means that people figuring out as “principally heterosexual” expertise disparities much like different sexual minorities (Vrangalova & Savin-Williams, 2014), which means it might have been extra applicable to classify people figuring out as “primarily heterosexual” into a gaggle separate from “heterosexual”, or to hold out a sensitivity evaluation.
  • While utilizing a cross-sectional design with two time factors allowed an examination of modifications within the disparities skilled by sexual minorities earlier than and after key laws (i.e., the Equality Act 2010), a cohort research with the identical pattern would have offered stronger proof on the impression (or lack of impression) of this laws.
  • Lastly, a cohort research with mediation evaluation is required earlier than conclusions could be reached on whether or not the minority stress variables lie on the pathway between sexual orientation, suicidality, and self-harm outcomes.
This paper built on limitations of previous literature, including the use of validated measures to investigate several facets of self-harm and suicidality, allowing precision in identifying areas of risk for sexual minorities.

This paper constructed on limitations of earlier literature, together with the usage of validated measures to research a number of aspects of self-harm and suicidality, permitting precision in figuring out areas of threat for sexual minorities.

Implications for apply

This research deepens our understanding of suicidality and self-harm in sexual minorities in England. The outcomes present an elevated threat of suicidal ideas and NSSH in bisexual and lesbian/homosexual people and spotlight CMD, discrimination and bullying as potential contributors to this extra threat.

This data could also be helpful for clinicians who’re working with sexual minority people, notably when finishing up threat assessments for suicidality and NSSH. It could be useful for clinicians to be conscious of the potential of a historical past discrimination and bullying, and clinicians can sensitively enquire about this, when applicable, as a part of complete therapeutic assessments.

We should additionally look past clinicians to psychological well being providers. It’s important for psychological well being providers to contemplate if they’re assembly the wants of sexual minorities. Analysis means that not solely do some sexual minority teams have poorer therapy outcomes in UK psychological well being providers (Rimes et al., 2019), however additionally they face boundaries inside these providers. A few of these boundaries are summarised in a Psychological Elf weblog by Siobhan D’Almeida, who reported on a paper by Morris et al. (2022) that explored sexual minority service customers’ experiences of Enhancing Entry to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) and first care counselling providers. Boundaries included fears of exposing one’s sexual identification and a lack of knowledge, and sexual minority service customers proposed employees coaching and visual indicators of inclusivity as among the ways in which providers might be improved.

Lastly, on a private be aware, as a homosexual man who has accessed psychological well being providers within the UK, I can recognise among the points mentioned and the position they’ve performed in each my very own constructive and adverse experiences with psychological well being providers previously. Personally, the occasions when providers have been overtly inclusive (e.g., by way of satisfaction flags and lanyards) I’ve felt extra snug from the start and this enabled me to overtly focus on my sexuality and its relationship to my psychological well being. Moreover, practitioners who’ve been educated on sexual minority themes have enabled a stronger therapeutic alliance to be achieved and the therapy has felt more practical.

In light of poor treatment outcomes and identified barriers, it is important for mental health services to consider if they are meeting the needs of sexual minorities.

In gentle of poor therapy outcomes and recognized boundaries, it will be important for psychological well being providers to contemplate if they’re assembly the wants of sexual minorities.

Assertion of pursuits

Liam will likely be beginning a PhD within the UCL Division of Psychiatry in September 2023. Liam’s PhD will look to enhance how psychological well being professionals work with folks from sexual minorities. David Osborn will supervise Liam’s PhD venture, and Irwin Nazareth will likely be a part of Liam’s thesis committee. Nonetheless, Liam had no involvement within the present paper.

Liam is at the moment enhancing his MSc dissertation manuscript with the hope of submitting it for publication. Liam’s dissertation was a scientific evaluate of psychological well being help-seeking in LGBTQ+ people.


Major paper

Kidd, G., Marston, L., Nazareth, I., Osborn, D., & Pitman, A. (2023). Suicidal thoughts, suicide attempt and non-suicidal self-harm amongst lesbian, gay and bisexual adults compared with heterosexual adults: analysis of data from two nationally representative English household surveys. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

Different references

Borgogna, N. C., McDermott, R. C., Aita, S. L., & Kridel, M. M. (2019). Anxiety and depression across gender and sexual minorities: Implications for transgender, gender nonconforming, pansexual, demisexual, asexual, queer, and questioning individuals. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Range, 6(1), 54–63.

D’Almeida, S. (2023). Psychological well being providers for sexual minorities: experiences of discrimination, boundaries to providers and priorities for enchancment. The Psychological Elf

Dunlop, B. J., Hartley, S., Oladokun, O., & Taylor, P. (2020). Bisexuality and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI): A narrative synthesis of associated variables and a meta-analysis of risk. Journal of Affective Issues, 276, 1159–1172.

Feinstein, B. A., Hurtado, M., Dyar, C., & Davila, J. (2023). Disclosure, minority stress, and mental health among bisexual, pansexual, and queer (Bi+) adults: The roles of primary sexual identity and multiple sexual identity label use. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Range, 10(2), 181–189.

Gattis, M. N., Sacco, P., & Cunningham-Williams, R. M. (2012). Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders Among Heterosexual Identified Men and Women Who Have Same-Sex Partners or Same-Sex Attraction: Results from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Archives of Sexual Conduct, 41(5), 1185–1197.

Hoy, A., & London, A. S. (2018). The experience and meaning of same-sex sexuality among heterosexually identified men and women: An analytic review. Sociology Compass, 12(7), e12596.

King, M., McKeown, E., Warner, J., Ramsay, A. M., Johnson, Okay., Cort, C., Wright, L., Blizard, R., & Davidson, O. (2003). Mental health and quality of life of gay men and lesbians in England and Wales. British Journal of Psychiatry, 183(6), 552–558.

King, M., Semlyen, J., Tai, S. S., Killaspy, H., Osborn, D., Popelyuk, D., & Nazareth, I. (2008). A systematic review of mental disorder, suicide, and deliberate self harm in lesbian, gay and bisexual people. BMC Psychiatry, 8(1).

Krueger, E. A., Meyer, I. H., & Upchurch, D. M. (2018). Sexual orientation group differences in perceived stress and depressive symptoms among young adults in the United States. LGBT Well being, 5(4), 242–249.

Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129(5), 674–697.

Morris, D., Fernandes, V., & Rimes, Okay. A. (2022). Sexual minority service user perspectives on mental health treatment barriers to care and service improvements. Worldwide Assessment of Psychiatry, 34(3–4), 230–239.

Plöderl, M., & Tremblay, P. (2015). Mental health of sexual minorities. A systematic review. Worldwide Assessment of Psychiatry, 27(5), 367–385.

Rimes, Okay. A., Ion, D., Wingrove, J., & Carter, B. (2019). Sexual orientation differences in psychological treatment outcomes for depression and anxiety: National cohort study. Journal of Consulting and Medical Psychology, 87(7), 577–589.

Wright, T. (2021). Non-suicidal self harm in bisexual populations. The Psychological Elf.

Vrangalova, Z., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2014). Psychological and Physical Health of Mostly Heterosexuals: A Systematic review. Journal of Intercourse Analysis, 51(4), 410–445.

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