“To know how to be different … Not being able to assume … To want to be like the others. Not being able to talk about our suffering …”
The quotes in the image are responses to open questions asked of participants in 2007 and 2011 on the causes for their suicide attempts. Since participation was on an anonymous basis, the first names used are fictitious.
All of the studies done in the worldworldwide on suicide andin LGBT populations show that they are how disproportionately affected disproportionatelythey are. Suicide was the subject of mMajor research was done on suicide underas part of the gay health project in order to assessverify the situation in Switzerland and to bring attention to this issue in the relevant organizations and services andt to help set up prevention programs and actions.
Firstly, questions on suicidality (suicidal thoughts, plans and attempted suicides) were asked in all three surveys done as part ofin the gay health project in 2002, 2007 and 2011 which showed how this situation progressed. Secondly, the baseline survey findings from 2002 were compared to the findings in two other national surveys carried out the same year. SMASH, the Swiss national survey on adolescents and Ch-x, the national survey on the health of young people allow us to compare young people with homosexual attractions with those who feel heterosexual attraction.
Findings from these studies confirm that young gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in Switzerland have a 2 to 5 times greater risk of suicide than young heterosexuals.
Despite the fact that Switzerland is greatly impacted by suicide, the Swiss Health Survey (ESS) collected no data on this issue until 2017. This table compares suicidality (ideas, plans, and suicide attempts) among gay men to men in the general population based on multiple studies on suicide done in Denmark. The shady area represents findings from different studies. Gay men have suicidal thoughts around 3 times more frequently than Danish men over a lifetime and 1 of every 5 gay men had suicidal thoughts in the year prior to the survey. The situation is even more dire when it comes to suicide attempts. Around 4% of gay men haved attempted suicide in the year before the survey and around 20% had over a lifetime
The graph shows the percentage of gay men who had suicidal ideas in the 12 months prior to the surveys and over a lifetime. 1 out of every 3 gay men who have suicidal thoughts attempts suicide. The 22% drop in suicidal thought between 2007 and 2011 in the 12 months prior may be partially due to the Blues-out project.
The graph shows the percentage of gay men who had made suicidal plans in the 12 months prior to the surveys and over a lifetime. Here the 29% drop in suicide plans between 2007 and 2011 might also be partially due to the Blues-out project.
Around 20% of gay men, or 1 out of 5 gays at some point in their lives had attempted suicide. In the adolescent age bracket, the rate is 5 times higher than for heterosexual teenagers in Switzerland. Half of these suicide attempts were before age 20 and three-fourths before age 25. Nevertheless, suicide attempts are not limited to youth and remain high for older gay men as well. Suicide prevention and care professionals note that a previous suicide attempt greatly increases the risk of suicide later.
Our data is currently being analyzed to see what psycho-social resources most protect against the risk of suicide.
These pie charts show the main cause or causes to which survey respondents attribute their suicide attempt(s). Something to keep in mind is that rarely does a person commit suicide for only one reason. More often than not, it is an accumulation of factors which make a person feel they have no way out and thus must take action to end their suffering.
For their first suicide attempt, the youngest respondents list love and relationship problems, difficulties accepting homosexuality and family problems as almost equal causes for their suicide attempts. For the most recent suicide attempt, mostly among adults, the main reasons are love and relationship problems, difficulty accepting one’s homosexuality and to a lesser degree depressionwere the most frequently listed reasons.
Except for difficulty accepting one’s homosexuality, these causes are not limited to gay men. Difficulty accepting one’s homosexuality shows the very intense personal, interpersonal and social stress that many gay men go through when they realize they are gay but also throughout their lifetimes given the stigmatization. Stress levels depend very much on the reaction of those around them, particularly when it comes to family and their religious beliefs.
Love and relationship problems are generally breakups and difficulties establishing stable, long-term relationships. In the preliminary qualitative research before the surveys in 2001, gay men had mentioned love and relationships as the most important aspects for a good quality life all while acknowledging that it was the area where they were least satisfied. Gay men, and particularly younger ones, often seek out a partner and awhile livinge in gay male culture that values sex toatat the expense of a romantic relationship.
If you are having suicidal thoughts or you are afraid that a friend might be having dark thoughts, please talk directly with him or her and offer your help. You will find useful information and links to emergency services on the Blues-out site.