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Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Seattle - 1995 - Homosexuality Factor in Adolescent Suicidality
 


Suicide Attempt* Results Based on Sexual Identity &
Being / Not-Being Targeted For Anti-Gay Abuse**
Odds Ratios - 95% and 99%  Confidence Intervals

CATEGORIES
Hetero-
sexual Not Targeted
N = 6664
89.6% of Students
Hetero-
sexual
Targeted
N = 449
6.0% of Students
Homosexual
/Bisexual
Not Targeted
N = 214
2.9% of 
Students
Homo-
sexual/Bi
Targeted
N = 110
1.5% of Students
Suicide Attempters
Percent
5.5%
380/6664
20.5%
92/449
19.1%
41/214
20.3%
22/110
Suicide Attempters
Requiring/Seeking
Medical Attention
Percent 
 1.7%
113/6664
8.6%
39/449
7.8%
17/214
9.6%
11/110
Of Attempters in a Category, % Seeking  or requiring Medical
Attention
29.7%
(113/380)
42.4%
(39/92)
41.6%
(17/41)
50.0%
(11/22)
  *Attempted suicide in the past 12 months
**Was Target of Offensive Comments or Attacks Re: Sexual Orientation at School or on the Way to School.

DATA SOURCE: - Safe Schools Anti-Violence Documentation Project - Part Two: The Seattle Public Schools' Teen Health Risk Survey N/A (Archive Link).    If unavailable, see Table 4: - http://www.safeschools-wa.org/quant_mh.html N/A (Archive Link) - and Table 6: http://www.safeschools-wa.org/quant_so.html N/A (Archive Link).  Accessed January, 2000. No longer Available. Data source is from the document "83,000 youth" by Reis and Saewyc (April, 1999) located at - http://www.safeschools-wa.org/ N/A (Archive Link, New Website) -  http://www.safeschools-wa.org/83000youth.pdf N/A (PDF Download of Document, Archive Link, New Link)

For results of other Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, follow this link.
 

Generation of Odds Ratios from the given Seattle 1995 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Statistical Results were generated using 2X2 table available at - http://www.quantitativeskills.com/sisa/statistics/twoby2.htm - on the basis of data cited in above table. All Statistical Significance: p < .0001 .

1. Harassed VS non-harassed students

 114 attempters / 445 non-attempters - VS - 421 attempters / 6457 non-attempters
114/559 = 20.39% VS 421/6878 = 6.12%  ---- 3.3 Times More Likely.
Category: 114/ (421+114 = 536) = 21.27% accounted for by 559/7437 = 7.5% of sample

1A. Odds Ratio for "Attempted suicide" - 95% CI: 3.1<3.9.<4.9 .

1B. Odds Ratio for "Attempted suicide" - 99% CI:  2.9<3.9<5.3 .
 

2. Non-harassed VS harassed students (For Suicide attempts associated with receiving medical attention)

50 attempters (Medical) / 509 non-attempters (Medical)  - VS - 130 attempters (Medical) / 6748 non-attempters (Medical)

50/559 = 8.94% VS 130/6878 = 1.89% ---- 4.7 Times More Likely.
Category: 50 / (130 + 50 = 180) = 27.78% of attempters (medical) accounted for by 559/ 7437 = 7.5% of the sample.

2A. Odds Ratio for "Attempted suicide requiring medical attention" - 95% CI: 3.6<5.1<7.2 .

2B. Odds Ratio for "Attempted suicide requiring medical attention" - 99% CI: 3.3<5.1<7.9 .
 

3. Non-harassed vs Harassed hetero + GLB harassed + GLB non-harassed.

155 attempters / 618 non-attempters - VS  - 380 attempters  / 6284 non-attempters

155/773 = 20.1% 155/773 = 20.1% VS 380/6664 = 5.7%  ---- 3.5 Times More Likely.
category: 155 / (380 + 155 = 535) = 29.0% of attempters accounted for by 773/ 7437 = 10.4% of the sample.

3A. Odds Ratio for "Attempted suicide" - 95% CI: 3.4<4.1.<5.1 .

3B. Odds Ratio for "Attempted suicide" - 99% CI: 3.2<4.1<5.4 .
 

4. Non-harassed vs Harassed hetero + GLB harassed + GLB non-harassed ( For Suicide attempts associated with receiving medical attention)

67 attempters (Medical) / 706 non-attempters (medical) - VS  - 113 attempters (Medical) / 6551 non-attempters (Medical)

67/ 773 = 8.7%  VS 113/6664 = 1.65%  ----  5.3 Times More Likely.
Category: 67/180 = 37.2% of attempters with associated medical attention accounted for by 773/ 7437 = 10.4% of the sample.

4A. Odds Ratio for "Attempted suicide requiring medical attention" - 95% CI: 4.0<5.5<7.5 .

4B. Odds Ratio for "Attempted suicide requiring medical attention" - 99% CI: 3.6<5.5<8.3 .
 

From The Above Data:

Gay- or Bisexual-Identified Adolescents & Heterosexual-Identified Adolescents - assumed or suspected to be (some probably known to be) homosexually oriented and were treated accordingly ( verbal abuse, with a likelihood of physical abuse) - are at about equal risk  to be suicide attempters: 20.5% & 20.3%. They are also about  4-times more at risk for a suicide attempt - in the past 12 months - than heterosexual identified adolescents (5.5%) not targeted for such abuse.

Adolescents targeted for anti-gay abuse accounted for 21.3% (92+22 / 535) of suicide attempters, and 27.8% (39+11 / 180) of suicide attempters who required / sought medical attention in association with their suicide attempt.

The Homosexuality Factor in Adolescent Suicide Attempts, however, would also include Gay- & Bisexual-Identified Students not targeted for abuse who are also at higher risk for attempting suicide, including attempting suicide which resulted in medical attention. Adding this group to the above groups, the following applies:

"Homosexuality" is implicated (to various degrees) in the lives of  29.0% (92+22+41 / 535) of suicide attempters, and in the lives of  37.2% (39+11+17 / 180) of suicide attempters who required / sought medical attention in association with their suicide attempt
The adolescents reporting "homosexuality issues" to be a factor in their lives (10.4% of students) accounted for about 3 out of 10 suicide attempters, and about 4 out 10 adolescents for whom their suicide attempt resulted in receiving medical attention.
Exactly "what homosexuality issue(s)" is implicated in these suicide attempts, and how this issue(s) is implicated remains to be studied. Good "grounded theory" research is needed to answer these questions. As one lesbian youth I interviewed reported, being  told she was a lesbian was jerking her out of psychological "closet" before she was ready to recognize and accept this fact about herself. Therefore, her suicide attempt (requiring medical attention) was more related to not wanting to be what she was repeatedly told she was: a lesbian!  Many gay males report that they were also defined to be "gay" or "a fag" well before they knew what it meant, and well before they were ready to accept this fact about themselves. Therefore, a significant percentage of adolescents who reported being "heterosexual" and having attempted suicide may eventually identify as gay or bisexual and, if studied again, the associated "suicide attempt" data would then be in the "gay / bisexual" category.

Establishing the percentage of individuals who attempted suicide during childhood and adolescence on the basis of sexual orientation would require the study of individuals who are not in their adolescent years. A random sample of young adults would best supply the data required to answer this question.

To date, the best research data available is the product of a study of a stratified random sample of 750 young adult Calgary males producing about 11% of males deemed to be homosexually oriented on the basis of self-identification (stating that they are either homosexual or bisexual) and/or being currently (in the last 6 months) homosexually active.
These males accounted for 26% of individuals reporting self-harm activities (includes suicide attempt(s)) and 62.5% of males reporting an attempt at self-killing. See Bagley and Tremblay (1997.


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