Young gay and bisexual men may be much more likely to attempt suicide or harm themselves than their older counterparts, and blacks are at greater risk than whites, British researchers report.
“We know minority groups are at higher risk of poor mental health than the heterosexual majority, however the mental health differences within sexual minorities is unclear,” said study author Ford Hickson, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
“Our study showed that among gay and bisexual men, age and ethnicity had a significant impact on mental health, as did income and education. This is possibly because men are better able to cope with homophobia the older they are, or if they are relatively privileged in other areas of their lives,” he said in a school news release.
In the study, the researchers examined survey responses from nearly 5,800 gay and bisexual men from the United Kingdom 16 and older. The results: those younger than 26 were two times more likely to be depressed or anxious, and six times more likely to attempt suicide or harm themselves than those older than 45.
Blacks were two times more likely to be depressed and five times more likely to have attempted suicide than whites, according to the study published in the Journal of Public Health.
The researchers found that those with lower incomes were more likely to be depressed, anxious, and to attempt suicide or harm themselves than those with higher incomes. Those with lower levels of education were two times more likely to be depressed, anxious, and to attempt suicide or harm themselves than those with a university degree.
The study also found that gay and bisexual men living with a male partner were 50 percent less likely to have depression than those living alone.
“Poor mental health is not evenly distributed across race, income or education. We must ensure that access to life-changing support services are targeted to where they are needed most. Everyone has the right to good mental health,” Hickson concluded.
Population of focus: Young gay and bisexual men in the United Kingdom
Links to resource:
- Study — Mental health inequalities among gay and bisexual men in England, Scotland and Wales: a large community-based cross-sectional survey
- News article on BlackAIDS.org
Journal: Journal of Public Health