INTERNATIONAL: Sexual Orientation Top Risk for Suicidal Thoughts in College Freshmen

April 06, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


A recent study of college students in eight countries found that those with non-heterosexual identity or feelings were at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Researchers used data from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys International College Student Project, which included first-year students from 19 colleges in Australia, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Spain, and the U.S. They found that non-heterosexual orientation—such as lesbian, gay, or bisexual—was the most significant risk factor for suicidal thoughts and behaviors among students. Heterosexual orientation with experience of same-sex intercourse or attraction was also associated with increased suicide risk. The authors warned that these findings were limited by inconsistent response rates across countries. Lead author Philippe Mortier emphasized that the relative increase in suicide risk among sexual minority students was modest. “It is therefore important that future studies take into account a higher number of additional risk and protective factors to better differentiate which particular students in high-risk groups will [attempt suicide],” he said. Mortier and his co-authors suggested that young people entering college should be screened for suicide risk and provided with the necessary supports.

Spark Extra! Read the research abstract.