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Norms and normalisation: understanding LGBTQ youth, suicidality and help-seeking

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Culture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number2
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)156-172
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date23/06/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer transgender have elevated rates of suicidality. Despite the increased risk, there is a paucity of research on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer help-seeking and suicidality. We report on a UK sequential exploratory, two-stage, mixed-method study. Stage 1 involved 29 online and face-to-face semi-structured interviews with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth aged 16–25 years old. Stage 2 utilised an online youth questionnaire employing a community-based sampling strategy (n = 789). Results indicated that participants only asked for help when they reached a crisis point because they were normalising their emotional distress. Those who self-harmed, had attempted or planned suicide or had experience of abuse related to their sexuality or gender were most likely to seek help. Results suggested that the reluctance to seek help was due to three interconnecting factors: negotiating sexuality, gender, mental health and age norms; being unable to talk about emotions; and coping and self-reliance. Policies aiming to prevent lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth suicide recognise that norms and normalising processes connected to sexual orientation and gender identity are additional difficulties that youth have accessing mental health support.