Publish date: 8 September 2023
Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day (Sunday 10 September), West London NHS Trust is proud to shed light on ground-breaking research conducted by one of its own senior assistant psychologists, Garrett Kidd.
Garrett, who is also a researcher at the University College London (UCL), recently completed a comprehensive study examining the relationship between sexual orientation and suicidality. His research has highlighted the challenges faced by lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals, calling for urgent attention to their mental health and well-being.
In the 2021 census, it was reported that approximately 3.2% of people in England and Wales identified as LGB. Garrett emphasized the significance of this statistic, stating: "This statistic alone underscores the urgency of addressing the mental health concerns within our community. However, we must also acknowledge that the UK, like many other places, has a history of discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals. It was only in 2017 that some discriminatory laws were amended. Despite progress, the lingering effects of past discrimination continue to impact the well-being of many LGB people. Minority stress theory suggests that experiencing discrimination or bullying due to one's sexual orientation can lead to poorer mental health."
Garrett’s research, which analysed data from 10,443 participants in the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys, uncovered several key findings:
- Lesbian and gay individuals were more likely to report thoughts of suicide in the past year compared to heterosexual individuals.
- All LGB individuals were more likely to engage in non-suicidal self-harm, intentionally hurting themselves without attempting suicide.
- Bullying emerged as a contributing factor to the higher prevalence of suicidal thoughts among lesbian and gay individuals.
- Sexual minority groups did not have a higher likelihood of attempting suicide compared to heterosexuals.
Regarding his research findings, Garrett stated: "The key findings from the research provide a critical opportunity for West London NHS Trust to ask itself how it can contribute to better support for LGBTQ+ people."
He continued: "I recognize that our research paints a sobering picture. Behind these numbers are the lived experiences of LGB individuals - your friends, family, and colleagues. Many have grappled with accepting their sexual orientation, often in a world that has taught them it is not 'normal.' In many parts of the world, LGBTQ+ individuals are still marginalized."
Garrett concluded: "On this day dedicated to suicide prevention, if you know someone struggling with their sexuality, one of the most meaningful things you can do is offer your support. A simple gesture can break down barriers for people facing their darkest hours. This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's shine a light on obstacles that hinder LGBTQ+ people accessing the help they need. Together, we can make a tangible difference and save lives."
West London NHS Trust remains committed to improving mental health support for the LGBTQ+ community and will continue to work towards a more inclusive and accepting society for all.
Craig Ballantyne, Chair of the LGBTQ+ Staff Network at West London NHS Trust, said: “Garrett’s research underscores the ongoing importance to address LGBTQ+ mental health needs and reduce inequalities. Despite progress, discrimination's lingering effects persist, affecting the well-being of many in the community. The study illuminates the challenges faced, emphasising the urgency of support. On World Suicide Prevention Day, let's unite to break down barriers and save lives by offering meaningful support to LGBTQ+ individuals.”
You can read Garrett’s study in full here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00127-023-02490-4
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with issues relating to their sexuality they can contact LGBT Foundation which offers advice and support. The LGBT Foundation helpline is 0345 3303030 and operates on week days from 9am until 9pm and on weekends from 10am to 6pm, excluding bank holidays and religious festivals.