International research indicates that LGBT adolescents’ rates of suicide attempts can be between four and seven times those of their heterosexual peers. In the UK, however, there is a lack of evidence about LGBT adolescents’ suicide, self-harm and help-seeking behaviour. The result of this research deficiency is that we do not currently have the evidence required to develop effective and appropriate suicide prevention policy and service provision.
The aim of the proposed research is to reduce the risk of suicide in lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) adolescents (aged 16-25) by providing evidence, which is currently missing, to inform suicide prevention policy and mental health service delivery. LGBT young people are a hard-to-reach group which require sensitive but robust research methods to produce valid findings. This mixed-methods research programme utilises a two-phase procedure conducted over 23 months to produce reliable evidence concerning this vulnerable group. Phase one will conduct 30 semi-structured interviews with LGBT adolescents, half online, and half face-to-face. Phase two will involve two online questionnaires aimed at LGBT youth and mental health service staff.
The research outcomes, by providing missing evidence, will benefit:
The major ethical challenge when researching a sensitive topic (suicide) with a hard-to-reach population group (LGBT adolescents) is to ensure that the disclosure of sexual orientation, gender identity and mental health does not place participants at risk of discrimination or harm. The lead applicant has successfully employed online and face-to-face research ethics protocols in previous studies on LGBT adolescents and suicide. The research team have between them many years of experience of conducting mental health research, and translating that research into policy and practice outcomes.