Income and education linked to suicide risks for gay and bisexual men

Canadian researchers have found that gay and bisexual men making less than $30,000 a year and without a university degree have more than five times the odds of attempting suicide compared with their more advantaged peers.

“Less-educated men might feel a greater sense of hopelessness because they see few options to improve their lot, compared to their peers, who could address their poverty by using their education,” said study lead author and University of British Columbia postdoctoral research fellow Olivier Ferlatte.

Researchers also found that bisexual men who were in a relationship with a woman were less likely to attempt suicide compared with those who were single or had male partners.

“For a bisexual man, having a female partner is probably protective in that it shields them from the stress of being a member of a ‘visible minority’ and from potential discrimination,” said Ferlatte, who works in the men’s health research program at UBC’s school of nursing.

Ferlatte and colleagues from the non-profit Community-Based Research Centre for Gay Men’s Health evaluated data from a national health survey of 8,382 men who have sex with men. Analysis focused on 145 men who reported having attempted suicide in the past 12 months.

Researchers said their study was the first in Canada to analyse how socioeconomic factors like income and education are associated with suicide risks for these men.

Study co-author and UBC nursing professor John Oliffe says the results could be used to design better suicide prevention programs.

“As gay and bisexual men are not affected by suicide equally, interventions should acknowledge the diversity of experiences in this community. We have to make sure that messages are relevant and available to men with lower income and education levels.

“Information about suicide, mental health and available resources must be specific to their needs and easy to understand,” said Oliffe.

Australian statistical information released last week showed that the nation’s suicide rate and dropped slightly, but men were still far more likely to take their own lives, accounting for 75% of cases.


Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyondblue: and www.beyondblue.org.au

QLife: and www.qlife.org.au
QLife are a counselling and referral service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people.


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