Survey highlights LGBT people’s higher suicide risk

A quarter of Hongkongers who were polled had depression, six times the general public’s share

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 May, 2016, 8:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 May, 2016, 8:45pm

A study among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Hongkongers found that 30 per cent had attempted, or thought of attempting, suicide.

More than 580 people took part in the study of mental health among the marginalised groups, in response to World Mental Health Day on Tuesday.

The survey also showed 24 per cent of respondents had depression – six times the share of the general population. Some 35 per cent said they had some sort of emotional issues.

“Society’s non-acceptance of LGBT people has caused immense stress and frustration for the community,” said Connie Chan, spokesperson for the Women Coalition, which conducted the survey.

University of Hong Kong professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, who studies population trends and heads the university’s Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, said suicidal tendencies had always been higher among the LGBT community than the general population.

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“This is not just in Hong Kong but around the world…[suicide] rates are higher among the LGBT community,” said Yip.

He attributed the problem to social stigma, as well as the difficult personal circumstances that many face.

“It’s extremely hard needing to fight off the social stigma of being gay. On top of that, or because of that as well, many also struggle with personal issues,” said Yip, who added that society needed ways for LGBT people to find help in a safe environment.

Around 80 per cent told the survey they hoped for more advocacy and education about treating LGBT people with less hostility.

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Chan also called on the government to pass anti-discrimination legislation as soon as possible.

Various studies on anti-LGBT discrimination culminated in the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) starting a consultation project. That led to a report earlier this year, stating that the government should hold an official public consultation as soon as possible, in preparation for passing an anti-discrimination law to protect sexual minorities.