Suicidal Ideation and Attempts Among Sexual Minority Youth Receiving Social Services

by Stacey Freedenthal; N. Eugene Walls; Hope Wisneski

Jan 1, 2008
The increased risk for suicidal ideation and attempts among sexual minority youth has been documented in studies using both convenience samples and representative community samples. However, as most youth do not access social services, these studies do not necessarily represent the sexual minority youth that community-based social workers may encounter in their day-today practice. As such, the present study on risk and protective factors related to suicidality surveyed 182 sexual minority youth (ages 14-21) who sought assistance at a community-based social service agency in Denver, CO. Similar to existing literature, the findings suggest that risk factors related to suicidality include hopelessness, methamphetamine use, homelessness, and inschool victimization. However, unlike studies of the general youth population, this study found that African American and male sexual minority youth were not at lower risk of suicidality than sexual minority youth who were, respectively, white or female. Additionally, our findings suggest that the presence of gay-straight alliances in schools may function as a protective resource for sexual minority youth. Implications for social work practice are discussed.
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