Purpose: Despite robust empirical and theoretical evidence for higher rates of suicide among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youths, little is known about the relationship between suicide and sexual orientation among Asian youths. This study examined differences in prevalence of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts between LGB and heterosexual youths in the cities of Hanoi, Shanghai, and Taipei, China.
Methods: The data are from a community-based multi-centre cross-sectional study conducted from 2006 to 2007, with a sample of 17 016 youths aged 15–24 years from Hanoi, Shanghai, and Taipei. Chi-square test and logistic regression were used to evaluate correlates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.
Results: The overall prevalence of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in the preceding 12 months in LGB youths were both higher than in heterosexual youth (12.8% vs. 8.1% and 4.0% vs. 2.4%, respectively). Stratified by city, the prevalence of suicidal ideation was lowest in Hanoi (2.2%), followed by Shanghai (8.0%) and Taipei (17.0%). Similar trends were observed in the prevalence of suicide attempts, which was lowest in Hanoi (0.3%), followed by Shanghai (1.2%) and Taipei (2.5%). Of note, however, multivariate logistic regression results revealed that LGB youth were at a higher risk for suicidal ideation than heterosexual youth only in Taipei (odds ratio 1.65).
Conclusions: Suicidality is common among Asian youth, with higher prevalence observed in urbanized cities. LGB youths are at greater risk of suicidal ideation than their heterosexual counterparts in Taipei than in the other two examined cities.