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Am J Public Health. 2014 Feb;104(2):272-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301424. Epub 2013 Dec 12.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender hate crimes and suicidality among a population-based sample of sexual-minority adolescents in Boston.

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Dustin T. Duncan is with the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA. Mark L. Hatzenbuehler is with the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and the Center for the Study of Social Inequalities and Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY.



We examined whether past-year suicidality among sexual-minority adolescents was more common in neighborhoods with a higher prevalence of hate crimes targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals.


Participants' data came from a racially/ethnically diverse population-based sample of 9th- through 12th-grade public school students in Boston, Massachusetts (n = 1292). Of these, 108 (8.36%) reported a minority sexual orientation. We obtained data on LGBT hate crimes involving assaults or assaults with battery between 2005 and 2008 from the Boston Police Department and linked the data to the adolescent's residential address.


Sexual-minority youths residing in neighborhoods with higher rates of LGBT assault hate crimes were significantly more likely to report suicidal ideation (P = .013) and suicide attempts (P = .006), than were those residing in neighborhoods with lower LGBT assault hate crime rates. We observed no relationships between overall neighborhood-level violent and property crimes and suicidality among sexual-minority adolescents (P > .05), providing evidence for specificity of the results to LGBT assault hate crimes.


Neighborhood context (i.e., LGBT hate crimes) may contribute to sexual-orientation disparities in adolescent suicidality, highlighting potential targets for community-level suicide-prevention programs.

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