Age, race and having a partner affect risk for suicide among gay men


Age race and having a partner affect risk for suicide for gay menScientists say that older gay and bisexual men appear to cope better with homophobia and are less likely to try to commit suicide.

Research by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that gay and bi men in the UK under the age of 26 were six times more likely to attempt suicide or self-harm and were twice as likely to be depressed or anxious compared to those aged over 45.

Black gay and bisexual men were also twice as likely to be depressed and five times more likely to have attempted suicide than those who are white. Furthermore, men in the lower wage bracket and those with lower levels of education were more likely to be depressed, anxious and attempt suicide or self-harm.

“Our study showed that among gay and bisexual men, age and ethnicity had a significant impact on mental health, as did income and education,” commented lead author Dr Ford Hickson. “This is possibly because men are better able to cope with homophobia the older they are, or if they are relatively privileged in other areas of their lives.”

The researchers also discovered cohabitation (living with someone) is key for positive mental health. Men who are living with a male partner are 50% less likely to suffer from depression compared to gay and bisexual men living alone.

Living in London was also shown to be advantageous, perhaps because London has the largest population of gay men in the world and isolation and discrimination are less common there.

“Minority groups are usually thought to be more homogenous than they actually are, when in fact there is great variation in health and life situations among this group,” explained Dr Hickson. “What’s clear is that health inequalities among gay and bisexual men mirror those in the broader society.”

April Guasp, Head of Research at LGBT group Stonewall, said that the study “contributes to better understanding of the specific risks within LGBT communities and will hopefully lead to more targeted health interventions”.

The study, Conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, is the first to examine the mental health differences within gay and bisexual men in the UK. Using data from the Stonewall Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health Survey, the researchers analysed responses of 5,799 gay and bisexual men aged 16 and over living in the UK.

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