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Bisexual teens at highest risks for cyberbullying, suicides

Heather Rudow November 2, 2011

After a rash of instances of bullying and suicides among gay adolescents, Americans have begun to take note that more sensitivity and awareness needs to be placed on the well being of this community. However, a University of Illinois study reveals that bisexual teens are actually at a greater risk for trouble.

Researchers found that bisexual teens have a greater risk of suicide and bullying than their straight, gay and questioning counterparts, based on an anonymous survey comprised of 13,000 middle and high school students.

When asked if they had thought about suicide during the past 30 days, 7 percent of straight students reported thinking about it, whereas 33 percent of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth (LGBTQ) students reported they had thought about it. Breaking it down further, thirty-two percent of the questioning youth reported they had thought about suicide; bisexual students led the group with 44 percent. The survey also found bisexuals to be at a higher risk of suicide attempts, with more than 21 percent of the students surveyed reporting that they had made at least one attempt during the prior year. 

In terms of Internet harassment, 20 percent of straight students reported experiencing some form of cyberbullying. For LGBTQ students, that number was nearly doubled at 39 percent, and bisexuals were again the top group victimized, with 49 percent reporting some form of victimization.

Researcher Joseph Robinson said one of the most stunning things is that the bullying of these adolescents starts young.

“For some of the outcomes, such as unexcused absences, we found that LGBTQ were already at a heightened risk level by middle school,” Robinson said. “We interpret that as a sign that we may need to intervene earlier for LGBTQ students. We can’t look at what straight kids are doing and assume that LGBTQ kids are at the same risk. The fact that we see these large differences in risk patterns for LGBTQ students in middle school is cause for concern and points to the need for more research to understand why they have disproportionately poorer educational and psychological outcomes.”

Source: University of Illinois

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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