A systematic review and meta-analysis of victimisation and mental health prevalence among LGBTQ+ young people with experiences of self-harm and suicide

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • A Jess Williams
  • Jon Arcelus
  • Ellen Townsend
  • Aikaterini Lazaridou

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust


BACKGROUND: LGBTQ+ youth have higher rates of self-harm and suicide than cisgender, heterosexual peers. Less is known about prevalence of risks within these populations.

OBJECTIVES: The first systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the prevalence of risks among young people throughout the LGBTQ+ umbrella with experiences across the dimension of self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicide behaviour; and how they may differ between LGBTQ+ umbrella groups.

DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, Scopus, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and Web of Science searches were run to identify quantitative research papers (database inception to 31st January, 2020).

STUDY ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Articles included were empirical quantitative studies, which examined risks associated with self-harm, suicidal ideation or suicidal behaviour in LGBTQ+ young people (12-25 years).

SYNTHESIS METHODS: 2457 articles were identified for screening which was completed by two independent reviewers. 104 studies met inclusion criteria of which 40 had data which could be meta-analysed in a meaningful way. This analysis represents victimisation and mental health difficulties as risks among LGBTQ+ youth with self-harm and suicide experiences. Random-effects modelling was used for the main analyses with planned subgroup analyses.

RESULTS: Victimisation and mental health were key risk factors across the dimension self-harm and suicide identified through all analyses. A pooled prevalence of 0.36 was indicated for victimisation and 0.39 for mental health difficulties within LGBTQ+ young people with experiences of self-harm or suicide. Odds ratios were calculated which demonstrated particularly high levels of victimisation (3.74) and mental health difficulties (2.67) when compared to cisgender, heterosexual counterparts who also had these experiences.

CONCLUSIONS: Victimisation and mental health difficulties are highly prevalent among LGBTQ+ youth with experiences of self-harm and suicide. Due to inconsistency of reporting, further risk synthesis is limited. Given the global inclusion of studies, these results can be considered across countries and inform policy and suicide prevention initiatives.



Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0245268
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2021