Youth Suicide Risk and Sexual Orientation

By Rutter, Philip A.; Soucar, Emil | Adolescence, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Youth Suicide Risk and Sexual Orientation


Rutter, Philip A., Soucar, Emil, Adolescence


Smith and Crawford (1986) studied suicide intent among 313 Midwestern high school students. Of the 62% who reported some degree of suicidal ideation or intent, 8.4% had actually made an attempt. Given the nonclinical sample, this percentage is alarmingly high.

Neiger and Hopkins (1988) explored the relationship between demographics, etiology, and adolescent suicide. They found that depression, low self-esteem, self-dislike, and self-criticism were important predictors of suicidal ideation. Indicators of actual suicidal intent included previous suicide attempts, frequent discussion of death, making plans for death, purchasing or carrying deadly weapons, and certain criminal behavior. Finally, suicidal teenagers also reported external concerns: family violence, loss of a parent through divorce or death, and history of parents or siblings who had either attempted or committed suicide.

Brent and colleagues (1993) studied completed youth suicides by comparing victims with a history of previous psychiatric disturbances to those without such history. Although the latter group had fewer of the personal and familial risk factors associated with completed suicide, they nonetheless exhibited higher rates of familial psychiatric disorder, past suicidal ideation or behavior, legal or disciplinary problems in the past year, and loaded firearms in the home.

According to research conducted in the past two decades, sexual minority youth (gay, lesbian, and bisexual) exhibit more suicidal ideation than do their heterosexual peers. Estimated rates of suicidal ideation range from 50% to 70%, and actual suicide attempt rates range from 30% (Gibson, 1989) to 42% (D'Augelli & Hershberger, 1993), or three times that of heterosexual youth (D'Augelli & Hershberger, 1995; Rotheram-Borus, Reid, Rosario, Van Rossen, & Gillis, 1995). For racial minorities who are also gay or lesbian (Smith & Crawford, 1986), rates of suicidal activity are suspected to be even higher, and may reflect prejudice toward both sexual orientation and race. The youth in these studies were seeking assistance from community mental health centers or refuge at shelters, and they typically exhibit greater pathology than the mainstream gay, lesbian, or bisexual youth, an issue that may present a confound (Savin-Williams, 1990).

Furthermore, studies assessing suicide risk among youth have not included the full spectrum of sexual orientation. Several researchers suggest that bisexual and questioning youth may be at higher risk for suicidal behavior than self-identified homosexual youth (D'Augelli & Hershberger, 1993; D'Augelli, Hershberger, & Pilkington, 1996; Rotheram-Borus, Piacentini, Miller, Graae, & Castro-Blanco, 1994).

The literature on adolescent suicide has increased with the increase in suicidal behaviors, particularly among certain adolescent groups where suicidal ideation and behavior are higher. However, the predictive validity of suicide assessments has received mixed reviews. Several instruments display a high false positive rate, that is, overpredicting suicide risk (Muehrer, 1995). Because previous suicide attempters are at greatest risk for suicidal behavior, assessments are needed that not only produce lower false positive rates, but also identify those who have made attempts or have a suicide plan. This group can then be targeted for prevention and intervention efforts.

Another limitation of adolescent suicide research is that suicidal behavior and suicidal ideation are different constructs (Muehrer, 1995), and cross-study comparison of youth who experience fleeting thoughts of suicide with those who have actually made a suicide attempt and have been hospitalized is problematic. Thus, assessment of youth suicide risk should include the full range of suicide risk: low risk (fleeting suicidal ideation with no plan) to high risk (suicide plan, selection of lethal method, and previous attempt history). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Youth Suicide Risk and Sexual Orientation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.