A new study published two months ago in the American Journal of Public Health delves for the first time into the complex intersection of race and sexuality in mental health issues affecting the nation’s youth, and their results are telling.
Using survey data from 2005-2007, the group assessed the mental health outcomes of over 70,000 teens living in 14 districts, and which included over 6,000 sexual minorities. The group was able to for the first time disaggregate depression, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among teens by race and gender, and particularly with regard to often-times invisible racial groups — multiracial and Alaska Native / Pacific Islander youths.
In their study, the group found that regardless of race, sexual minorities are about twice as likely as sexual majorities to feel sad, and about three or four times as likely to self-harm or attempt suicide. The absolute numbers are also striking — half of LGBTQ youth between ages 13 to 18 feel an unusual degree of sadness, and one in three have attempted suicide. One in three.
This finding can be nothing other than a profound and poignant demonstration of our society’s failure to provide LGBTQ youths the kind of supportive, accepting environment that they need to feel accepted.