Mental Health

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


Lesbian, Homosexual, and Bisexual (LGB) people (usually termed ‘sexual minorities’) are at elevated danger 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 further stressors that sexual minorities face because of their minority id (e.g., discrimination because of sexual id, internalised homophobia).

Analysis additionally means that LGB people are at elevated danger of suicide makes an attempt (King et al., 2008), and a Mental Elf blog by Talen Wright summarises a assessment by Dunlop et al. (2020) displaying that bisexual people are at elevated danger of partaking 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 critiques have recognized gaps within the literature concerning our information 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 danger 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 “uses a stratified, multistage random sampling design” to create a consultant pattern of the 16+ inhabitants dwelling in personal households in England, with knowledge 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 contributors with sexuality knowledge obtainable have been included, which resulted in a pattern of 10,443 folks aged 16-64. Sexual orientation was outlined barely otherwise 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 12 months). In addition they examined for doable mediation by minority stress variables.


Of the ten,443 contributors:

  • 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 because 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 (aside from 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)

End result variable Heterosexual / primarily heterosexual Bisexual Lesbian / homosexual / primarily gay Different p worth
Suicidal ideas, past-week (%) 0.9 2.0 1.0 1.5 0.483
Suicidal ideas, past-year (%) 5.0 13.4 11.4 8.8 < .001
Suicidal ideas, lifetime (%) 16.7 47.0 36.7 18.4 < .001
Suicide try, past-week (%) < 1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.990
Suicide try, past-year (%) 0.7 4.3 1.1 1.5 < .001
Suicide try, lifetime (%) 5.4 24.1 15.2 8.9 < .001
NSSH, lifetime (%) 5.3 26.9 15.2 9.4 < .001

Sexuality and past-year suicidal ideas

Relative to heterosexuals, homosexual/lesbian people had higher odds of experiencing suicidal ideas previously 12 months (OR = 2.47, 95% CI 1.37 to 4.48), even after controlling for socio-demographic components and CMD (OR = 2.20, 95% CI 1.08 to 4.50). These elevated odds remained when adjusting for socio-demographic components, 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 components (OR = 2.37, 95% CI 1.28 to 4.38), however not after adjusting for each socio-demographic components and CMD (p > .05).

Sexuality and past-year suicide try

Bisexual people (however no different sexual minority group) had larger 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 components (OR = 3.95, 95% CI 1.23 to 12.72). Nonetheless, this grew to become non-significant after adjusting for each socio-demographic components 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 larger odds of reporting lifetime NSSH. This was barely attenuated for each teams, however continued to be vital, after controlling for socio-demographic components, widespread psychological dysfunction, discrimination based mostly on sexual orientation, and historical past of bullying.

Interactions with gender and survey 12 months

There was no proof to recommend that results have been modified by gender or by survey 12 months.

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 have 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 have been at elevated danger of lifetime Non-Suicidal Self-Hurt (NSSH) and past-year suicidal ideas, relative to heterosexuals.

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

Lastly, these disparities persevered 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 optimistic 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 persevered 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 analyze 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 larger statistical energy relative to different research and subsequently strengthening the reliability of the findings. This paper additionally makes use of validated measures to analyze a number of sides of self-harm and suicidality, permitting us to exactly perceive the place sexual minorities expertise elevated danger.

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

  • The research relied on contributors defining solely their sexual orientation, however there may be rising recognition that people can determine as heterosexual, while additionally reporting same-sex points of interest and/or behaviours. There may be proof that means that the variety of folks figuring out as heterosexual and reporting same-sex points of interest and/or behaviours could also be comparable, and even bigger, than the quantity who determine as LGB (Hoy & London, 2018; Krueger et al., 2018; Gattis et al., 2012).
  • Some analysis means that people figuring out as “mostly heterosexual” expertise disparities much like different sexual minorities (Vrangalova & Savin-Williams, 2014), that means it might have been extra acceptable to classify people figuring out as “mainly 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 may 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 using validated measures to analyze a number of sides of self-harm and suicidality, permitting precision in figuring out areas of danger for sexual minorities.

Implications for observe

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

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

We should additionally look past clinicians to psychological well being companies. It is vital for psychological well being companies 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 companies (Rimes et al., 2019), however additionally they face obstacles inside these companies. A few of these obstacles are summarised in a Psychological Elf blog by Siobhan D’Almeida, who reported on a paper by Morris et al. (2022) that explored sexual minority service customers’ experiences of Bettering Entry to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) and first care counselling companies. Boundaries included fears of revealing one’s sexual id and a lack of awareness, and sexual minority service customers proposed employees coaching and visual indicators of inclusivity as a few of the ways in which companies may very well be improved.

Lastly, on a private word, as a homosexual man who has accessed psychological well being companies within the UK, I can recognise a few of the points mentioned and the function they’ve performed in each my very own optimistic and damaging experiences with psychological well being companies previously. Personally, the occasions when companies have been overtly inclusive (e.g., via satisfaction flags and lanyards) I’ve felt extra comfy from the start and this enabled me to overtly talk about 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 obstacles, it will be significant for psychological well being companies to contemplate if they’re assembly the wants of sexual minorities.

Assertion of pursuits

Liam might 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 undertaking, and Irwin Nazareth might be a part of Liam’s thesis committee. Nonetheless, Liam had no involvement within the present paper.

Liam is at present enhancing his MSc dissertation manuscript with the hope of submitting it for publication. Liam’s dissertation was a scientific assessment 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). Mental health services for sexual minorities: experiences of discrimination, barriers to services and priorities for improvement. 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 Problems, 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, Ok., 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, Ok. A. (2022). Sexual minority service user perspectives on mental health treatment barriers to care and service improvements. Worldwide Evaluate of Psychiatry, 34(3–4), 230–239.

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

Rimes, Ok. 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 injury 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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