Teens who hide their true sexual orientation are at higher risk for suicidal behaviors, a new study suggests.
The study focused on teens who either identified as gay or lesbian but had sexual contact with only the opposite sex or with both sexes, or who identified as heterosexual but had sexual contact with only the same sex or with both sexes.
These teens – who are experiencing what researchers call sexual orientation discordance – have a significantly elevated risk for suicide, investigators warn in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Researchers surveyed nearly 7,000 high school students from across the U.S., asking 99 questions about health and risk behaviors. Two of the questions focused on sexual orientation.
About 4 percent of the teens had experienced sexual orientation discordance, responses showed. This was true for 32 percent of gay and lesbian students, compared to 3 percent of heterosexual students.