A new study has reported that young bisexual and gay men –under the age of 26 – are six times more prone to self-harm or attempt suicide compared to those aged 45 and older.
Based on data collected during a huge survey by Stonewall, researchers found anxiety attacks, depression, self-harm, and even attempted suicide were more likely to occur in younger gay and bisexual men.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) also discovered that black, less educated or poorer members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) community also experience an increased risk of self-harm.
Published in the Journal of Public Health, the new study is the first to take a hard look at the mental health differences among British gay and bisexual men.
Researchers combined the data of Stonewall’s Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health Survey with the responses of 5,799 gay and bisexual men aged 16 and older living in the UK.
Dr. Ford Hickson, the leading author of the research from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, explained that mental illness doesn’t spare anyone. It is currently one of the greatest health challenges worldwide, and it affects people from all walks of life.
While it was known that sexual minority groups were at higher risk of poor mental health than the heterosexual majority, the mental health differences within sexual minorities remained unclear.
The findings of this study showed that age and ethnicity among younger gay and bisexual men had a significant impact on the state of one’s mental health, as well as income and education.
Why younger? Researchers believe that older men are better at coping with the disapproval and the people’s disagreement with their life choices. At the same time, they can also react better if they are more privileged in other areas of their lives.
Even though the study’s authors agree that more research is needed on the matter, the connection remains. Meanwhile, gay and bisexual men could also experience marginalization or discrimination in ways unrelated to their sexuality.
According to April Guasp, head of research at Stonewall, the study is the right first step towards investigating the conditions and factors that surround the community of gay and bisexual men.
“It’s known that a range of factors can increase the risk of poor mental health among the population in general and the same holds true for gay and bisexual men,” she added.
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