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LGBTQ students more likely to self-harm than straight students, study finds


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A study has been conducted by researchers at the University of Manchester, Lancaster University, Leeds Beckett University and Edith Cowan University in Australia into the rate of self-harm amongst students in the LGBTQ community.


The results found that of the 707 students who were surveyed, 65% of those who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual said they had self-harmed compared to 41% of the students who said they were straight.  


Self-harm is described as non-suicidal self-injury or NSSI, which includes cutting, burning, scratching, drug abuse, binge drinking and trichotillomania or hair pulling.


The survey also revealed that 35% of the students who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual had attempted suicide at some point in their life, compared to 14% of straight students who admitted to attempting suicide.


The study linked lower self-esteem to higher rates of self-harm. Dr Peter Taylor, a researcher in the study, suggested that the, “data highlights how low self-esteem may leave some LGB students more at risk.”


Arguments have been made that by the continued promotion of acceptance of the LGBTQ community and greater efforts to fight discrimination, these statistics of self-harm can hope to be reduced. 


In recent years, self-harm has been on the rise. Since 1997 the number of girls under 18 who have been admitted to hospital for self-harm, has doubled from 7327 to 13,463 in 2017. 


A previous study in North Yorkshire in 2015 revealed that more than half of girls in the LGBTQ community admitted to self-harming. A study conducted by the University of Arizona found that 4/10 non-binary teenagers had attempted suicide. 


Amongst transgender teens it is estimated that 4/5 students will self harm and over half will go on to attempt to take their own lives, as reported in Stonewall’s School Report in 2017. 


Elizabeth McDermott of Lancaster University wrote, “Young people's mental health is a national concern and this study confirms that lesbian, gay or bisexual young people have elevatedrates of suicidality and self-harm compared with heterosexual youth.”


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