While LGBT people are at heightened risk for mental-health issues compared to heterosexual counterparts, there has been a historical lack of data and LGBT–specific services in this area of concern.
However, the Still Here Project, which is part of the Men's Health Research program at the UBC School of Nursing, is a visual art and research initiative designed to shatter taboos around and address neglected or overlooked areas of queer mental health, including depression and suicide.
According to a study led by UBC researcher and Still Here Project director Olivier Ferlatte published in the Journal of Homosexuality in September, suicide attempts reported by gay and bisexual respondents were four times more than the rate for Canadian men.
The study cited previous analyses that estimated that gay and bisexual men are two to five times more likely to attempt suicide than straight men. In fact, a previous study identified suicide among MSM as a public health crisis on par with the HIV/AIDS death toll and yet it has received disproportionately less attention from researchers.
Furthermore, the study found that lower incomes and the lack of a university degree increased the odds of suicide attempts. For instance, men without a university degree were five times more likely to have attempted suicide.
Interestingly, the study also discovered that bisexual men who had a female partner experienced protective effects against suicide than those in a same-sex relationship. The study hypothesizes that the increased risk for suicide among men with male partners may be due to them experiencing more stressors and discrimination related to being recognized as part of a visible minority.
Indigenous men were found to have twice the rate of suicide attempts as Caucasian men, which the researchers attributed to the ongoing impact of colonization, including homophobia introduced or influenced by European colonists.
To help address the lack of research in this area, the Still Here Project launched the national Still Here Survey—Sondage Toujours là to gather information from queer Canadians about their experiences.
Any Canadians who are 17 years of age or older and who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, or queer are able to participate. Every participant will be entered into a draw to win a $300 giftcard to Amazon.
The results of the survey will be used to advocate for more mental-health services for LGBT people in Canada.
To participate in the survey, which takes approximately 25 minutes to complete, visit the Still Here Survey—Sondage Toujours là website. The survey will close on January 31. Preliminary results will available at the Still Here website next summer.
If you or someone you know is experiencing depressive or suicidal thoughts, some options for resources include talking to a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, psychologist, or counsellor. If in crisis, contact 911 or go to a hospital immediately.
The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of B.C. offers 24-hour phone and online distress services (as well as community education). The Crisis Line Association of B.C. (1-800-784-2433) provides 24-hour service for individuals across the province.
Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) is a national service for children and teenagers.