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Sexual minority status and suicidal behaviour among Chinese adolescents: a nationally representative cross-sectional study

09 Aug 2018

Objectives

Suicidality among sexual minority adolescents has generated worldwide concern in recent decades, and previous Western studies have demonstrated that sexual minority status is associated with adolescent suicidality. However, whether this association exists in Chinese adolescents remains largely unknown. This study aimed to estimate the associations between sexual minority status and suicidal behaviour among Chinese adolescents.

Design

Cross-sectional survey.

Setting

A total of 506 high schools in 7 provinces of China.

Participants

A total of 150 822 students in grades 7–12 who completed the questionnaires (response rate of 95.9%) were included.

Main outcome measures

Suicidal ideation and suicide attempts were used to measure suicidal behaviour, and sexual attraction (opposite sex, same sex or both sex) was used as a measure for sexual minority status.

Results

Of the 150 822 adolescents analysed, 4.1% self-reported as sexual minorities and 17.3% were unsure. Compared with heterosexual and unsure adolescents, same-sex romantic attraction (SSA) and both-sex romantic attraction (BSA) adolescents reported a higher prevalence of past-year suicidal ideation (SSA: 21.6% for males and 30.4% for females; BSA: 34.7% for males and 42.3% for females) and suicide attempts (SSA: 6.9% for males and 8.9% for females; BSA: 12.2% for males and 10.9% for females). After adjustment for covariates, SSA and BSA adolescents were more likely to have past-year suicidal ideation and suicide attempts than their heterosexual and unsure peers. BSA adolescents reported the highest risk of suicidal ideation (males: adjusted OR (AOR) 2.42, 95% CI 2.03 to 2.88; females: AOR 2.61, 95% CI 2.41 to 2.82) and suicide attempts (males: AOR 3.83, 95% CI 2.85 to 5.14; females: AOR 2.59, 95% CI 2.19 to 3.06).

Conclusions

Our study suggested that Chinese sexual minority adolescents were at increased risk of suicidality, and those with BSA had an especially high risk in this population. These findings emphasised the urgent need to develop targeted interventions to effectively address suicide-related problems among Chinese sexual minority adolescents.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open

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