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Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2016 Oct;7(5):281-288. Epub 2016 Sep 17.

How do Sexual Identity, and Coming Out Affect Stress, Depression, and Suicidal Ideation and Attempts Among Men Who Have Sex With Men in South Korea?

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Graduate School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Health Management, Sahmyook University, Seoul, Korea.



This study investigated the status of sexual identity, perceived stigma, stress, depression, and suicidal ideation and attempts. It also examined how sexual identity and "coming out" affect stress, depression, and suicidal ideation and attempts.


Suicidal ideation, psychological health status, and health-related behaviors were assessed using the Internet to maximize the confidentiality of the participants, men who have sex with men (MSM). The data were collected from a total of 873 MSM aged between 19 years and 59 years in 2014.


Only 20.9% of the MSM had come out (18.0% voluntarily and 2.9% by others). The prevalences of perceived stress and depression among MSM were 46.7% and 42.7%, respectively, compared with 20.1% and 7.4% among general men. Approximately 32% of the MSM reported any suicidal ideation, and 3.3% had attempted suicide in the past year. The likelihood of suicidal ideation was significantly associated with being age 30-39 years [odds ratio (OR) = 1.8], high school or less (OR = 1.6), having been outed (OR = 5.2), feeling stressed (OR = 1.8), and feeling depressed (OR = 12.4) after sociodemographic factors and other perceptions were controlled for.


The present study provides evidence that MSM are at an elevated risk for suicidal ideation and attempts with high stress and depression. Some risk factors were specific to being gay or bisexual in a hostile environment.


coming out; depression; sexual identity; stigma; stress; suicidal ideation and attempts

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