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Gay Men's Suicide Risk Rises as Income Falls

HealthDay News
by -- Randy Dotinga
Updated: Oct 13th 2017

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FRIDAY, Oct. 13, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Gay and bisexual men with less education and income face more than five times the risk of attempting suicide than their wealthier and better-educated counterparts, a new Canadian study finds.

"Less-educated men might feel a greater sense of hopelessness because they see few options to improve their lot, compared to their peers, who could address their poverty by using their education," said study lead author Olivier Ferlatte, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of British Columbia.

The study was based on a survey of more than 8,000 gay and bisexual men in Canada. The researchers focused on the answers from 145 men who said they'd tried to kill themselves within the past year.

"The number of gay and bisexual men who die by suicide is comparable to those who die from HIV/AIDS. Yet we know little about the factors contributing to this health crisis and particularly about how social factors and suicidal behaviors intersect," Ferlatte said in a university news release.

"Our study is the first in Canada to analyze how socioeconomic factors like income and education are associated with suicide risks for these men," he said.

Bisexual men in relationships with women were less likely to attempt suicide than single men or those who had male partners, the researchers found.

"For a bisexual man, having a female partner is probably protective in that it shields them from the stress of being a member of a visible minority and from potential discrimination," Ferlatte said.

Study co-author John Oliffe, a nursing professor at the university, said suicide prevention programs could use the study findings to improve their services.

"As gay and bisexual men are not affected by suicide equally, interventions should acknowledge the diversity of experiences in this community," he said.

"We have to make sure that messages are relevant and available to men with lower income and education levels. Information about suicide, mental health and available resources must be specific to their needs and easy to understand," Oliffe said.

The study was published in the Journal of Homosexuality.

More information

For more about suicide prevention in gay and bisexual men, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.