Sexually confused young people more vulnerable

Report finds those with concerns are 14 times more likely to attempt suicide

Report authors say it highlights the significant difficulties associated with sexual orientation concerns among adolescents. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Report authors say it highlights the significant difficulties associated with sexual orientation concerns among adolescents. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Young people with concerns about their sexual orientation experience significantly higher rates of victimisation and social difficulties than their peers, a new study suggests.

They are also far more likely to be sexually active and to abuse alcohol and drugs, according to the study published in the Irish Medical Journal.

They are 14 times more like to attempt suicide, five times more likely to have been physically assaulted and 16 times more likely to have been sexually assaulted than the rest of their age-group.

Over 1,100 students with an average age of 14 years attending schools in Cork and Kerry, were surveyed for the research led by staff from the National Suicide Research Foundation in Cork.

Attempted suicide

A total of 40 per cent had experienced physical assault, against an average of 8 per cent, and 16 per cent reported sexual assault, compared with 1 per cent in the overall group.

Some 90 per cent of those with sexual orientation concerns had had sex compared with 4 per cent of their peers.

The authors say it highlights the significant difficulties associated with sexual orientation concerns among adolescents, and the need for early and targeted interventions to address their needs.

Alcohol consumption

Three-quarters were smokers, as against one-fifth in the wider group and marijuana use was 41 per cent as against 2 per cent generally.

“The group with sexuality concerns had higher levels of depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, emotional and behavioural problems, suicidal behaviour and lower levels of wellbeing.”

The report says it is likely some of the adverse experiences identified are associated with being a lesbian, gay or bisexual youth in Ireland.