Suicidal ideation and attempts among sexual minority youths receiving social services

  • Walls N
  • Freedenthal S
  • Wisneski H
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Abstract

The increased risk of suicidal ideation and attempts among sexual minority youths have been documented in studies using both convenience samples and representative community samples. However, as most youths do not access social services, these studies do not necessarily represent the sexual minority youths that community-based social workers may encounter in their day-to-day practice. As such, the present study on risk and protective factors related to suicidality surveyed 182 sexual minority youths (14 to 21 years of age) who sought assistance at a community-based social services agency in Denver. Similar to existing literature, the findings suggest that risk factors related to suicidality include hopelessness, methamphetamine use, homelessness, and in-school victimization. However, unlike studies of the general youth population, this study found that African American and male sexual minority youths were not at a lower risk of suicidality than sexual minority youths who were, respectively, white or female. In addition, our findings suggest that the presence of gay-straight alliances in schools may function as a protective resource for sexual minority youths. Implications for social work practice are discussed. (Author)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Gay
  • Gay-straight alliance
  • Lesbian
  • Suicide
  • Youths

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Authors

  • N. Eugene Walls

  • Stacey Freedenthal

  • Hope Wisneski

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