Sexual Orientation Discordance Puts Adolescents at Greater Risk for Nonfatal Suicidal Behaviors

March 09, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

Medical Xpress

Recent findings suggest that sexual contact inconsistent with an individual’s sexual orientation (i.e., sexual orientation discordance) may increase adolescent suicide risk. Researchers analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of high school students who identified as heterosexual, gay, or lesbian and reported having had sexual contact. Young people who identified as bisexual or not sure were excluded because researchers could not confirm whether their sexual contacts were inconsistent with their sexual orientation. The analysis found that the prevalence of discordance was 32 percent among gay and lesbian students and 3.3 percent among heterosexual students. Discordant youth were 70 percent more likely to report experiencing suicidal thoughts or attempts in the past year compared to their concordant peers. “These findings are a wake-up call that we need to learn more about why teens who engage in sexual activity that is different than their sexual orientation are more likely to think about or attempt suicide,” said lead author Francis B. Annor of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. “A better understanding of the stress that leads to suicidal thoughts or attempts among these young people can help communities identify and implement tailored approaches to help them.”

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