From the Journals

Suicide often associated with bullying in LGBTQ youth



Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer adolescents who commit suicide are more likely to have been bullied than are non-LGBTQ young people, based on analysis of a national database.

Among suicide decedents aged 10-19 years who were classified as LGBTQ, 21% had been bullied, compared with 4% of non-LGBTQ youths, and the discrepancy increased among younger individuals, Kirsty A. Clark, PhD, of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., and associates wrote in JAMA Pediatrics.

Here’s how the presence of bullying broke down by age group by LGBTQ/non-LGBTQ status: 68%/15% among 10- to 13-year-olds, 28%/7% for 14- to-16-year-olds, and 7%/2% among 17- to 19-year-olds, based on data for 2003-2017 from the National Violent Death Reporting System.

Postmortem records from that reporting system include “two narratives summarizing the coroner or medical examiner records and law enforcement reports describing suicide antecedents as reported by the decedent’s family or friends; the decedent’s diary, social media, and text or email messages; and any suicide note,” the investigators noted.

Although prevalence of bullying was higher among LGBTQ youth, non-LGBTQ individuals represented 97% of the 9,884 suicide decedents and 86% of the 490 bullying-associated deaths in the study, they wrote.

Other suicide antecedents also were more prevalent in the LGBTQ group: depressed mood (46% vs. 35%), suicide-thought history (37% vs. 21%), suicide-attempt history (28% vs. 21%), and school-related problem (27% vs. 18%), Dr. Clark and associates reported.

“Bullying can be a deadly antecedent to suicide, especially among LGBTQ youth,” the investigators wrote. “Pediatricians can help to reduce this risk through adopting clinical practice approaches sensitive to the vulnerabilities of LGBTQ youth.”

SOURCE: Clark KA et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2020 May 26. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.0940.

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