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More Than 1 In 5 LGBTQIA+ Teen Suicides Are Prompted By Bullying, Says US Study

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May 28, 2020

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A new study has found that LGBTQIA+ adolescents who committed suicides were considerably more likely to have mentioned bullying as a contributing factor in their decision to end their lives, in comparison to non-LGBTQIA+ teens who had committed suicide.

Published in JAMA Pediatrics this week, the study was supported by the American Public Health Association and the CDC. To study the extent of overlap between bullying and suicides among the LGBTQIA+ youth, researchers from the Yale School of Public Health reviewed death records of nearly 10,000 individuals aged 10 to 19 from the US who committed suicide between 2003 to 2017. These records included narrative reports from coroners, medical examiners and law enforcement officials, as well as accounts of friends and family members. Whenever available, the researchers also went through the teenagers’ diaries, social media posts, text messages and suicide notes.

These records showed that LGBTQIA+ youths were five times more likely than their non-LGBTQIA+ counterparts to have experienced bullying that drove them to commit suicide. In addition, the study found that younger children were at even greater risk of committing suicide as a result of bullying: over two-thirds of the LGBTQIA+ children studied between 10 to 13 years of age had been bullied before their death.


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The researchers believed, at the very outset, that LGBTQIA+ youth were more likely to be bullied. But, through this study, they had attempted to understand the impact of such bullying. “We expected that bullying might be a more common factor, but we were surprised by the size of the disparity. These findings strongly suggest that additional steps need to be taken to protect LGBTQ youth — and others — against the insidious threat of bullying,” Kirsty Clark, the lead author of the project, said.

The situation isn’t starkly different in India. A study conducted by UNESCO last year on over 400 LGBTQIA+ youth in Tamil Nadu concluded that more than half of them skipped classes to avoid bullying, while a third dropped out of school altogether. Moreover, the study also found that nearly 70 percent of the bullied LGBTQIA+ students in India developed mental health disorders like anxiety and depression too.

“Bullies attack the core foundation of adolescent well-being. By showing that bullying is also associated with life itself for LGBTQ youth, this study urgently calls for interventions that foster safety, belonging and esteem for all young people,” John Pachankis, a co-author of the study, urged.

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Written By Devrupa Rakshit

Devrupa Rakshit is an associate editor with The Swaddle. She is a lawyer by education, a poet by accident, and a painter by shaukh. She has her own podcast called #DateNightsWithD on Spotify. You can find her on Instagram @devruparakshit.

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