Sexual orientation and suicide ideation, plans, attempts, and medically serious attempts: evidence from local Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, 2001-2009

Am J Public Health. 2014 Feb;104(2):262-71. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301383. Epub 2013 Dec 12.


Objectives: We examined the associations between 2 measures of sexual orientation and 4 suicide risk outcomes (SROs) from pooled local Youth Risk Behavior Surveys.

Methods: We aggregated data from 5 local Youth Risk Behavior Surveys from 2001 to 2009. We defined sexual minority youths (SMYs) by sexual identity (lesbian, gay, bisexual) and sex of sexual contacts (same- or both-sex contacts). Survey logistic regression analyses controlled for a wide range of suicide risk factors and sample design effects.

Results: Compared with non-SMYs, all SMYs had increased odds of suicide ideation; bisexual youths, gay males, and both-sex contact females had greater odds of suicide planning; all SMYs, except same-sex contact males, had increased odds of suicide attempts; and lesbians, bisexuals, and both-sex contact youths had increased odds of medically serious attempts. Unsure males had increased odds of suicide ideation compared with heterosexual males. Not having sexual contact was protective of most SROs among females and of medically serious attempts among males.

Conclusions: Regardless of sexual orientation measure used, most SMY subgroups had increased odds of all SROs. However, many factors are associated with SROs.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / ethnology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexuality / ethnology
  • Sexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / ethnology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Violence / ethnology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data