Suicidality and depression disparities between sexual minority and heterosexual youth: a meta-analytic review

J Adolesc Health. 2011 Aug;49(2):115-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.02.005. Epub 2011 May 26.


Purpose: To examine disparities between sexual minority youth (SMY) and heterosexual youth in rates of suicidality and depression symptoms.

Methods: Separate meta-analyses were conducted to examine suicidality and depression disparities. Studies were included if the average age of the participants was <18 years, and if suicidality or depression symptoms were compared across SMY and heterosexual youth.

Results: SMY reported significantly higher rates of suicidality (odds ratio [OR] = 2.92) and depression symptoms (standardized mean difference, d = .33) as compared with the heterosexual youth. Disparities increased with the increase in the severity of suicidality (ideation [OR = 1.96], intent/plans [OR = 2.20], suicide attempts [OR = 3.18], suicide attempts requiring medical attention [OR = 4.17]). Effects did not vary across gender, recruitment source, and sexual orientation definition.

Conclusions: Disparities in suicidality and depression may be influenced by negative experiences including discrimination and victimization. Clinicians should assess sexual orientation, analyze psychosocial histories to identify associated risk factors, and promote prevention and intervention opportunities for SMY and their families.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bisexuality / psychology
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Heterosexuality / psychology
  • Homosexuality / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Sexuality / psychology*
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data