Gay youth at risk of suicide?
Recent issues of Nunatsiaq News have highlighted the problem of suicide in Nunavut.
I recall reading in Nunatsiaq News about a social issues meeting held many years ago in Iqaluit (probably in the mid-1990s.)
At this meeting, an Inuk participant reportedly stated that several suicides and-or suicide attempts in the North have been by young gay male Inuit. Since that time, I have not heard much about homosexuality as a risk factor for suicide in the North.
Numerous studies reveal that young gay males are at significantly higher risk of thinking about, planning, and attempting suicide compared to their straight peers.
In a survey of 750 males aged 18 to 27 in Calgary, it was found that gay and bisexual males are 14 times more at risk for a serious suicide attempt compared with straight males. Gay and bisexual males (comprising 13 percent of the 750 males) accounted for 62.5 percent of those who attempted suicide.
The authors “…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.” These results underscore the need for qualified services rarely available to homosexually oriented youth.” (See www.youth-suicide.com/gay-bisexual/suicide.htm.)
A web survey will reveal a plethora of studies with similar results. Although homosexuality seems to be a very taboo topic in Canada’s North, I believe that it is essential to consider it in suicide research or in the design of suicide prevention strategies.