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At A Glance! The result of more than 30 studies in 4 categories.
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SUICIDALITY PROBLEMS OF 
GAY AND BISEXUAL MALES
Part 3 of 4: Notes - Tables

Final edited copy, Dec. 1996. Published as "Chapter 12" in C. Bagley & R. Ramsay, Eds. (1997) Suicidal Behaviours in adolescent and adults: taxonomy, understanding and prevention. Brookfield, Vermont: Avebury. A shorter version of this paper was published as Suicidal Behaviors in Homosexual and Bisexual Males in Crisis, The International Journal of Suicide and Crisis Studies, Vol. 18(1), 1997, pp. 24-34 (PubMed "abstract" link with a document delivery service. The abstract is also available on a CRISIS webpage.). The results of this study, combined with the another major demographic study also published in 1998, and additional information have been used to produce a monumentally important CAVEAT ALERT! In 2000, a CDC-Based study - from an NHANES sample taken between 1988 and 1992 - produced a subsample of young homosexually oriented young adult males (age = 17 to 29 years) comparable in age range of the sample taken for this study (age = 18 to 27 years, sample taken in 1991) with "suicide attempt result - compared to same-age 'heterosexual' males - which replicated the results of this study. See Addendum.
 


SUICIDALITY PROBLEMS OF GAY AND BISEXUAL MALES: EVIDENCE FROM A RANDOM COMMUNITY SURVEY OF 750 MEN AGED 18 TO 27

Christopher Bagley, Ph.D. and Pierre Tremblay, B.Sc., B.Ed. Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary

End NotesIntroduction / Study ResultsDiscussionBibliography

[1]
Rates of Suicide Attempts in Community-Based Samples of 
Gay and Bisexual Male Youth.
Studies
N
Males
Mean 
Age
% Suicide
Attempters
Reattempter
Rate
(1) Roesler & Deisher, 1972
60
29,0
31.0%
37%
(2) Remafedi, 1987
29
18.3
31.0%
20%
(3) Martin & Hetrick, 1988
480
17.0*
21.0%
 
(4) Schneider et al., 1989
108
29,6
20.0%
45%
(5) Remafedi et al., 1991
137
19.6
30.0%
44%
(6) Magnuson, 1992
77
23.5*
26.0%
 
(7) Rotheram-Borus, 1992
139
17.0*
39.0%
52%
(8) Uribe & Harbeck, 1992
37
17.0*
50.0%
 
(9) Herdt & Boxer, 1993
141
18.0*
20.0%
 
(10) Hammelman, 1993
28
23.0*
25.0%
 
(11) D'Augelli & 
Hershberger, 1993
142
19.2
42.0%
 
(12) Proctor & Groze, 1994
159
18.0*
40.3%
 
Means
 
19.3
31.3%
39.6%

*Exact figure not given in studies; represents the best possible estimate, given the information supplied. These are mostly gay community based samples. Two samples (3, 9) represents the total adolescent and youth population visiting a highly respected agency or youth group. One study (8) is high school based. One sample (7) is 89% youth of colour. Suicide attempt definitions usually do not separate parasuicides from deliberate attempts at self-killing. If this were done, some of the attempted suicide rates would be lower.

[2] Bell & Weinberg (1978) also studied smaller samples of black homosexual and heterosexual males, and white and black samples of homosexual and heterosexual females, all showing higher attempted suicide rates for homosexually oriented individuals.

[3] The Centres for Disease Control in the United States (CDC, 1991) reported, on the basis of the available studies, that the lifetime adolescent attempted suicide rate ranges from 9 to 14 percent. Males also attempt suicide at rates less than females, accounting for 25 to 30 percent of cited rates (Garland & Zigler, 1993; Smith & Crawford 1989; Shaffer et al. 1990). The lifetime attempted suicide rate for adolescent males would therefore range between 2.2 and 4.2 percent, the average being 3.2 percent.

[4] Canadian society is assumed to be 'highly homophobic' on the basis of our personal experience, and data in the Canada Youth & AIDS Study (King et al. 1988). For example only 33 percent of Grade 7 students agreed with the statement 'Homosexuals should be allowed to be teachers,' and only 18 percent reported that they 'would be comfortable talking with a homosexual person.' If adolescents had identical attitudes with respect to people of colour, the society producing these youth would be deemed 'extremely racist.' Some 22 American states still deem same-gender sexual activity to be criminal offenses. These states are assumed to be morbidly anti-homosexual, while the United States is generally perceived to be highly homophobic. American books such as Homophobia: How we all pay the price by Blumenfeld (1992), the information presented in other books such as Harbeck (1992), Herdt (1989), and Unks (1995), and the infamous 'Don't ask. Don't tell' American Military policy imposing the closet on gay and bisexual military personnel, all reveal the high levels of homophobia existing in the United States.

Table 12.1

Sexual Status of Sexually Active and Celibate Homosexual,

Bisexual, and Heterosexual Males at Interview, and Past Histories

of Suicidal Behaviour

CATEGORIES
Active
Homo-
sexual
Active
Hetero-
sexual
Active
Bi-
sexual
Celibate
Homo-
sexual
Celibate
Hetero-
sexual
Homosexual sex
1+ times in past 6 months
YES
NO
YES
NO
NO
Heterosexual sex
1+ times in past 6 months
NO
YES
YES
NO
NO
Totals
32/750
4.3%
544/750
72.6%
37/750
4.9%
13/750
1.7%
124/750
16.5%
Homosexual
Self-Label
29/32
90.6%
0/544
0.0%
1/37
2.7%
13/13
100%
1/124
0.8%
Bisexual
Self-Label
5/32
15.6%
10/544
1.8%
25/37
67.6%
3/13
30.8%
3/124
2.4%
Heterosexual
Self-Label
1/32
3.1%
540/544
99.3%
30/37
81.1%
0/13
0.0%
123/124
99.6%
Suicidal Ideas &
Behaviour Score
0.93
0.67
1.25
2.02
1.71
Deliberate Self-Harm /
Attempted Suicide in Lifetime
3/32
9.4%
15/544
2.8%
4/37
10.8%
6/13
46.1%
22/124
17.7%
Attempted Suicide
in Lifetime
1/32
3.1%
3/544
0.5%
2/37
5.4%
2/13
15.5%
0/124
0.0%
CES-Depression Score
in Past Two Weeks (D.D.)

14.6
(9.2)
13.7
(7.9)
15.7
(9.3)
27.1
(16.5)
23.6
(15.5)
  
Note: Some males declared more than one type of sexual orientation.

Categorization of 13 "celibate-homosexual" and 124 "celibate-heterosexual" males is based on predominant categories of self-declared sexual status. Eta (a measure of relationship derived from analysis of variance across categories) is 0.18, p < .001 for suicidal ideas and behaviour score, and 0.34 (p < .001) for acts of deliberate self harm/attempted suicide.

Bonferroni post-hoc analysis for acts of self-harm and attempted suicide: heterosexual males significantly different (p < .01) from all other groups.

Bonferroni analysis for attempted suicide, celibate heterosexual males vs. all other groups, p < .01 >.005.

Eta for CES-D depression score across all groups: 0.16, p<.01>.005. Pearson rs of CES-D and Suicidal Ideas and Behaviour Scales: 0.41, 0.32, 0.45, 0.55 and 0.39 in the five sexual orientation and behaviour categories above. All rs p < .05 or beyond.

End NotesIntroduction / Study ResultsDiscussionBibliography


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