Study: Suicide Attempts Highest Among Sexual Minority, Female Adolescents

Suicide attempts and bullying exploitation are critical areas of psychological stressors to pay attention to. A recent study reveals that suicidal behaviors and bullying risks are excessive among the minority demographic, including sexual minorities and female adolescents.

Suicide risks among sexual minority groups

According to the World Health Organization, many adolescents, around one in seven teens suffer from a mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders. Mental health is critical to address not only in adults but also in adolescents to live a fulfilling life into adulthood.

There are three types of suicide-related actions, including suicide, suicide attempt, and suicidal ideation. Suicide refers to an actual death caused by self-administered injury, while suicidal ideation is the contemplation of suicide. Suicide attempt refers to a failed, non-fatal injury attempted by a person.

With physical and emotional changes happening in adolescents, many undergo psychological difficulties without proper treatment or care. Across the world, 14 percent of adolescents encounter mental health conditions throughout their years, often leading to educational difficulties and even physical symptoms.

Bullying and suicide risk are highly correlated, as one can cause another. As both issues can cause serious mental health and physical difficulties, we have to critically examine the vulnerable adolescents in our society.

A recent study found that bullying and suicidal attempt rates are highest for female adolescents and sexual minorities. Sexual minority groups can include homosexual couples, bisexuals, transgenders, and more.

With suicide being one of the top death-causing risks in adolescents, risk factors include alcohol overdose, childhood abuse, mental health stigma, bullying, and lack of access to mental health care. With the advancement of technology, social media is also another platform to increase bullying behaviors and the risk of suicide.

Within a span of four years between 2015 and 2019, the bullying harassment percentage rose from 31.6 percent to 44.5 percent for nonheterosexual orientation groups, ranking them as the highest victimization group.

For adolescents, suicide is one of the leading causes of death aside from accidental deaths including firearm-related injuries and motor vehicle crashes. To thoroughly examine the reasoning behind suicide risks and prevent further actions, our society must pay attention to the mental health and evaluation of youths to create a healthy mindset.

How bullying affects more female adolescents than males

"Bullying is significantly associated with depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, suicide planning, and suicide attempts," said Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden assistant professor Nancy Pontes. "We wanted to look at this link between bullying victimization, depressive symptoms, and suicidality by gender."

As revealed by Rutgers University's research, female adolescents are more vulnerable to bullying than their male counterparts. Female adolescents are more susceptible to bullying, and also have an increased risk of suicidal plans compared to male adolescents.

Bullying is more physical when it comes to boys, unlike girls who deal with emotional bullying and mental stressors. Bullying in female adolescents can stray from the usual means of bullying, including exclusion from social circles, circulating rumors, and even sexual harassment and emotional aggression.

"Our school interventions should understand the differences in bullying and how we might better address females who are bullied," continued Pontes. "There are parents who see it as a rite of passage. They say, 'Everyone gets bullied. You have to buck up. Stand up for yourself."

Prevention for suicide and bullying risks in adolescents

Interfering with adolescents to constantly examine their mental health state is crucial in today's society. With ample exposure to bullying via social media, caretakers must give proper care and mental health protection when required.

35 research studies involving more than two million heterosexual adolescents and 113,468 sexual minority adolescents exhibited that transgender youths had the highest risk of suicide attempts. More public recognition is needed to help adolescents gain support and education about mental health.

Communities can also participate in the mental health of adolescents by creating school presentations, and community events, and making mental health services more accessible to any needed adolescents.

Schools can also heavily participate in the prevention of bullying and suicide risks by training school professionals to take actionable measures to deal with such events.

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