Accessibility statement

Understanding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Adolescents' Suicide, Self-Harm and Help-Seeking Behaviour

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:

  • LGBT adolescents by improving policy and services to reduce the risk of suicide
  • NHS and social care organisations working with LGBT adolescents by providing evidence which can be used to target this high risk group and tailor interventions which prevent suicide.

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.


Funder(s): National Institute for Health Research
Start Date: 01-Feb-2014
Expiry Date: 31-Dec-2015


Internal staff

External collaborators

Mental Health and Addiction Research in the Department of Health Sciences