One of the students at today’s lecture asked me about the death rate for lesbians and gays from suicide. I do not know of decent data on this: the problem is that no one records sexuality in a standard way. For example, Quin et al used “registered partner” as a proxy for gay marriage, as was the state in Denmark when the paper was written. They found an increase akin to being a Greenlander (which has a three time increase in suicide rate).
In addition, registered partners included as a separate category in the analysis had an odds ratio of 4.31 (95% CI=
2.23 – 8.36) in the crude analysis and 3.63 (95% CI=1.71– 7.67) in analyses with adjustment for other factors in the
Ping Qin, Esben Agerbo, and Preben Bo MortensenSuicide Risk in Relation to Socioeconomic, Demographic, Psychiatric, and Familial Factors: A National Register–Based Study of All Suicides in Denmark, 1981–1997. American Journal of Psychiatry 2003 160:4, 765-772
A US national psychiatric survey found that 2.2% of their cohort were men who had sex with men, and these men had an markedly increased rate of suicidal ideation and attempts. From their paper:
Approximately half of homosexually experienced men reported a positive lifetime history of at least 1 suicide-related symptom. Overall, prevalence rates of all 4 suicide symptoms were significantly greater among these men than among men who reported exclusively opposite-sex sexualpartners. These differences remained for 3 of the 4 symptoms assessed by the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (desire to die, suicide ideation, and suicide attempt) after statistical adjustment for possible demo- graphic confounding. Indeed, nearly a fifth (19.3%; 95% CI = 7.8%, 30.8%) of men with same-sex sexual histories reported at least 1 previous suicide attempt in their lives. On average, men reporting previous male sex partners evidenced significantly greater numbers of lifetime suicide symptoms (mean =1.2, SE = 0.2) than men who reported onlyfemale sex partners (mean = 0.5, SE = 0.3; t=3.42, P< .01). Statistical adjustment fordemographic confounding did not change these results.
Lifetime prevalence of suicide symptoms and affective disorders among men reporting same-sex sexual partners: results from NHANES III”, American Journal of Public Health 90, no. 4 (April 1, 2000): pp. 573-578. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.90.4.573
These rates are high. By way of comparison, the rates of suicide deaths among indigenous peoples in North America are about 2.5 those of the general population.
Although suicide is clearly an important public health priority for all Americans, it is an especially critical issue for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). North America’s Indigenous peoples have disproportionately high rates of suicide deaths, attempts, and ideation, and suicide deaths are approximately 50% higher for AI/AN people than for White people.1,3 However, AI/AN elder suicides are quite rare. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among AI/AN adolescents and young adults, and their rate of suicide is 2.5 times as high as the national average across all ethnocultural groups.2 AI/AN young men are particularly vulnerable4; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that AI/AN youths aged 10 to 24 years have the highest suicide rates of all ethnocultural groups in the United States, at 31.27 per 100?000 among male youths and 10.16 per 100?000 among female youths.
Lisa Wexler et al. “Advancing Suicide Prevention Research With Rural American Indian and Alaska Native Populations”, American Journal of Public Health 105, no. 5 (May 1, 2015): pp. 891-899. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302517
What about NZ data? Simply put, there is no robust data. The large mental health surveys have not done this correlation. But if that, now old, survey is correct, less than 2% of the population are in homosexual or lesbian relationships, and less than four percent have had sex with someone of the same gender. Fifteen percent of our population are indigenous.
My concentration on that offended some students. However, I am reluctant to quote fairly old Danish and American data and imply it applies to New Zealand in the current year. And, perhaps, the student or one of my colleagues will be motivated to do some research.