4 June 2014 14:23

Lancaster University is leading a study aimed at reducing self-harm and suicide among young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning.

International research has shown that LGBTQ adolescents and young adults can be four to seven times more likely to self-harm or have suicidal feelings compared to their heterosexual or cisgender peers. They are also more likely to experience homelessness, or drug or alcohol problems.

Queer Futures is a two-year project funded by the Department of Health and is being led by Dr Elizabeth McDermott and Dr Victoria Rawlings of Lancaster University with Dr Liz Hughes of the University of York.

Dr McDermott said: “It is only very recently that the UK Suicide Prevention Strategy has recognised that LGBTQ people have a higher risk of suicide and self-harm. We are very pleased that the Department of Health are funding the research which will provide the evidence, which is currently missing, to tackle the problem at a national level.

LGBTQ young people can feel marginalised in a variety of settings such as school, work, sporting environments, religious institutions or social groups because of discrimination against their gender identity or sexuality. They may also experience rejection from their families. These experiences may put them at increased risk of self-harm and suicide.

The Queer Futures study aims to provide health professionals and services with information about how to help LGBTQ people aged 16-25 who are feeling distressed.

Dr Rawlings said: “Our research aims to understand the factors that cause distress for some young LGBTQ people by listening to their opinions and experiences. This will help to explain why some young LGBTQ people in England take risks with their personal safety, harm themselves or think about suicide. We hope our findings will identify what types of services and support can help young LGBTQ people in distress.”

Queer Futures is currently seeking participants. See Queer Futures or alternatively find the project on Twitter @QueerFutures or Facebook QFutures.