Research Notes -- Higher suicide risk for LGBT surfaces in community study

by Tom O’Connor, UNMC public relations | June 24, 2011

Nearly 50 percent of the respondents in a research study of Nebraska's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community indicated that they had serious suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives while 26 percent of the study's respondents smoke.

Both percentages are higher than what is found in the overall population.

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Christopher Fisher, Ph.D.
Healthier to "be out"

Issues like suicide, smoking, sexual health and even seeking health care were linked to social conditions that allow for LGBT to be "out" about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, said the study's leader, Christopher Fisher, Ph.D., assistant professor in the College of Public Health.

"Almost across the board, we kept finding that persons who were more 'out of the closet' to family, friends, co-workers, and even casual acquaintances were more likely to be engaging in healthy behaviors," he said.

Study support

Two University of Nebraska at Omaha faculty members - Jay Irwin, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology, and Jason Coleman, Ph.D., MSPH, assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation - assisted with the study, called the Midlands LGBT Needs Assessment Community Report.

Several community-based organizations also contributed to the study.

Good timing

The study is timely, Dr. Fisher said, since the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine have both recently called for more research to better understand the conditions that affect the health of LGBT Americans.

"What little research has happened with LGBT populations has occurred predominately in the big cities and on the coasts," Dr. Fisher said. "However, the issues facing LGBT in New York or Los Angeles are different than in the rural Midwest."

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Peggy Smith Finch
June 24, 2011 at 9:05 AM

The "It Gets Better Project" has a wonderful series of short films about this issue on YouTube. Everyone should watch them. http://www.youtube.com/user/itgetsbetterproject