Structural racism and anti-LGBTQ policies may impact suicide risk

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According to a new study by Rutgers, a high risk of suicide, especially among young black gay, bisexual and other sexual minority men, may be associated with structural racism and anti-LGBTQ policies.

The study, published in the Adolescence Research Journal the special issue “Black Lives Matter!: Systems of Oppression Affecting Black Youth Special Series: Dismantling Racism and Systems of Oppression”, examined how structural oppression and anti-LGBTQ policies in different US states intersect and can predict the suicide risk.

“Our research suggests that structural oppression is a matter of life and death for young black sexual minority men,” says lead researcher Devin English, assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health. “Data indicates that racist and anti-LGBTQ policies in US states, such as those that discriminate against Black and LGBTQ communities in housing, incarceration, and economic opportunity, are linked to higher suicide risk for these people. young men.”

Researchers assessed a group of 497 black and 1,536 white gay, bisexual, and other sexual-minority men aged 16 to 25, compiled from a 2017-2018 U.S. National Internet Survey. While studies indicate that black youth suicide rates are increasing at higher rates than any other racial/ethnic community in the United States, suicide among black sexual minority youth is vastly understudied.

Researchers have found that anti-Black and anti-LGBTQ policies related to inequalities in housing, education, incarceration, and state economic opportunity among Black and LGBTQ communities are associated with risk factors for suicide, such as depressive symptoms, heavy drinking, perceived heaviness, thwarted belonging, suicidal ideation, self-harm and suicide attempts among young black sexual minority men.

The researchers also found that neither form of oppression nor their interaction was associated with suicide risk among young white sexual minority men.

“The results of this study highlight how white sexual minority men are often shielded from the negative impact of anti-LGBTQ policies,” says Cheriko A. Boone, co-author of the study at the Washington University. “For too long, black gay people have been left behind in terms of health and socioeconomic outcomes, while white gay people are protected from discrimination, especially in states with a perfect storm of anti-black racism and of anti-LGBTQ discrimination. “Boone said.

To address suicide among young black sexual minority men, the authors say structural and policy interventions are needed, including federal protections like the Equality Act for LGBTQ communities that have faced the strongest annual increase in state anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2021, in addition to policies aimed at dismantling structural racism, racist policing, and the many manifestations of anti-Black racism at all levels of American society.

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About the Rutgers School of Public Health

The Rutgers School of Public Health – New Jersey’s premier academic institution of public health – is committed to advancing health and wellness and preventing disease in New Jersey, the United States and around the world, preparing students to become leaders, scholars and practitioners of public health. ; conduct research and scholarship in public health; engage in collaboration with communities and populations; and actively advocate for policies, programs and services from an equity and social justice perspective. Find out how the Rutgers School of Public Health is “keeping the ‘public’ in public health,” by visiting them at https://sph.rutgers.edu.

Funding Statement

This study was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (K01-MH118091, PI: English) and a joint grant from the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute on Mental Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, and National Instituteon Drug Abuse (UG3-AI133674, PI: Rendina). The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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