Over the years, one of the greatest challenges and deeply disturbing occupational hazards faced by all therapists, in particular, and people, in general, has been the rapid increase in suicide rates. According to a report of the World Health Organization (WHO), every year around 800 thousand people commit suicide with much more in number who attempt it. Suicide is one of the leading causes of deaths with the risk amplifying for those belonging to the sexual minority groups- primarily the LGBT people- whose sexual and / or gender identity and preferences mismatch with the stereotypical norms set by the majority in the society. Addressing the alarming concern, World Mental Health Day 2019 was celebrated with the “40 seconds of action
” agenda for raising awareness on the burgeoning incidence of suicide rates and individual role to help prevent suicide.
The purpose of the present paper was to review the various factors that put sexual minority adolescents at risk of suicide. A systematic review of around 80 journal articles published online between 1980 and 2019 was done using google, google scholar and online databases like Web of Science, Scopus, PsycInfo, ProQuest, JSTOR, Studies on Women and Gender Abstracts, etc. A detailed analysis of the selected research papers suggests that suicidal risks, along with related psycho-physiological conditions, to be significantly more among adolescents belonging to sexual minority groups than their heterosexual and gender-norm conforming counterparts. Along with the common suicidal risk factors like feelings of depression, anxiety, low levels of self-esteem, negative peer influence, dysfunctional family environment, etc, sexual minority adolescents face additional burdens in the form of parental rejection, school bullying, micro-aggression, homophobic discrimination and demographic factors that escalate their chances of attempting suicide. Even the process of coming-out has its own challenges that put adolescents at heightened risk of suicides. However, supportive family environment has been identified as a major protective factor that could be strengthened to help prevent suicide.