A stratified random sample of 750 males aged 18 to 27 in Calgary, Canada included questions on sexual activity and orientation. Mental health questions included a measure of suicidality, and of acts of deliberate self-harm. A computerized response format (established as a good method for eliciting sensitive personal data) ensured anonymity. Almost 13 percent of males were classified homosexual or bisexual on the basis of being currently homosexually active and/or by self-identification. Significantly higher rates of past suicidal ideas and action were reported by homosexually oriented males compared to heterosexual males. These findings, indicating that homosexual and bisexual males are 13.9 times more at risk for a serious suicide attempt, are consonant with previous findings. Homosexually oriented males accounted for 62.5 percent of suicide attempters. We speculate that the predominant reason for the suicidality of these young males may be linked to the "coming out" process occurring in a highly homophobic society. Related issues are resolved for some, but may not be for others having high levels of current depression. These results underscore the need for qualified services rarely available to homosexually oriented youth.
by : Christopher Bagley, Ph.D. and Pierre Tremblay, B.Sc., B.Ed. Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary