Sexual Orientation, Gender, and Attempted Suicide among Adolescent Inpatients

November 30, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

A recent study found that female and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) adolescents admitted to an inpatient psychiatric hospital were at elevated risk for attempted suicide. This replicates a finding that is well established in general adolescent populations using a high-risk, clinical sample.

Researchers examined hospital records of 550 adolescents admitted for their first inpatient psychiatric hospitalization in a rural northwestern state between 2010 and 2015. In addition to looking at demographics like sexual orientation, the researchers examined presenting concerns; past trauma; adaptive functioning; and psychosocial, substance use, and psychiatric treatment history. Their analysis also included attempted suicide prior to intake, rurality, depression, and post-traumatic stress. Even after accounting for other risk factors, female patients were twice as likely as male patients, and LGBQ patients were three times as likely as non-LGBQ patients to have attempted suicide.

Adolescents admitted to inpatient treatment should receive culturally competent sociodemographic assessments to guide their care. Future research should examine suicide risk among specific subgroups of LGBQ youth receiving inpatient treatment to help inform clinical decision-making.

DeCou, C. R., & Lynch, S. M. (2018). Sexual Orientation, Gender, and Attempted Suicide among Adolescent Psychiatric Inpatients. Psychological Services, 15(3), 363–369.