25% of young gay men ‘have tried suicide’

A new survey finds that 25% of Gay or Bisexual men in Northern Ireland have tried to commit suicide. We don’t have a copy of the report, but the findings are based on three years of research on almost 200 gay men age 25 or younger. It identifies a number of issues: difficulties in accepting their sexuality; a shortage of people who understood what they were going through; homophobia at home, within society and at schools, even among teaching staff; and loneliness and isolation.

Update: A PA report notes that the general suicide rate in Northern Ireland has gone up by 50%

  • heck

    It’s sad!!

    in this regard NI is behind the civilized world when it comes to tolerance for gay men and lesbians.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    heck: “It’s sad!!

    in this regard NI is behind the civilized world when it comes to tolerance for gay men and lesbians.”

    heck, N.I. can’t handle the difference between Roman Catholic and Anglican / Presbyterian!! Why should *this* come as some sort of shock to *ANYBODY* is beyond me.

  • SlugFest

    Not funny, Tommy.

    this reflects poorly on all of us — in every society, we seem to glory in picking apart themmuns vs. usins (sp?). The ‘them’ in each society rarely seems to matter. i strongly think each of us is guilty of such actions, some more than others. the reason? it’s by far easier to look at someone else and pinpoint what makes them different than us rather than look within and see our own limitations.

    a small point, though Mick: suicide is rising as a whole in Northern Ireland, no? In general, the age group most likely to take their lives is 18-25. i’d be curious how this survey’s results measures against that of heterosexual young adults.

  • Yokel

    Check out the headline on the BBC News website that suggests an increase in funding FOR suicide…

  • Brian Boru

    A few years ago I used to think about it but wouldn’t at all dream of it now. I am the kind of person who talks like a gay person – though not to Paul O’Grady proportions. The insults did hurt at first but I’ve sortof become desensitised to them. I won’t allow them to get to me. That is how I recommend others should try to deal with it too. Now I know that isn’t always easy advice to fully. But it’s worked well for me.

    It is quite isolating growing up when other lads are pressuring you to go with girls and when the term “gay” is made a term of insult. Society needs to recognise that sexual orientation is something genetic, and that you cannot be ‘cured’ of it. It’s not a disease so it’s not a question of curing someone. Arguably, it is nature’s population control mechanism and so society ultimately benefits from having some people who are not heterosexual.

  • Sad

    Its so scary, the facts on suicide are alarming but how can you help someone who does not come looking for it.

    The reality here is what it always has been,


    first prod’s and Tiag’s

    Travellers and foreign nationals

    gay’s and Lesbians

    Where will it end

  • Keith M

    Yokel “Check out the headline on the BBC News website that suggests an increase in funding FOR suicide…”

    What are they going to spend it on extra sleeping pills? Sorry I couldn’t resist.


    These figures may not even be the full extent of the problem.
    Remember that these are the findings of people who admit to being gay.It’s a safe bet to assume that there are many more who can’t even admit to their true sexuality in a survey.
    All in all a shocking indictment on our society that so many feel driven to this desperation.

  • mickhall

    These are heartbreaking statistics and a national disgrace, the fact that a fool like TTA can make homophobic jokes on this web site and two hours plus later they have still not been removed is an example of the type of pressures these young people come under daily.

    If these had been racist jokes I have no doubt mick or another would have removed them. But hey, the guy is only making a joke, its just a bit of banter. Never mind that with all unthinking or cowardly ignoramuses they are at another’s expense. In the case of young people such piss taking can have catastrophic consequences.

    Everyone of us at some time or another have been in company when one of our number makes a racist or homophobic joke, not wishing to upset the applecart we far to often keep quite, maybe shuffle our feet, but in reality we are to cowardly to say enough! this is wrong.

    Many people have conquered their fears about intervening when racism is involved. One can only hope these statistics will give us all the courage to do the same when we come across homophobia.

  • RmcC

    Coincidentally I re-read Annie Proulx’s story Brokeback Mountain only today. The movie is good but the story is brilliant.

    I’m convinced that any homophobe would change their mind after reading this. But homophobes don’t read literature do they? 🙁

  • Mick Fealty


    For racialism/sectarianism you want the Polish Radio thread. At least two contributors there have made entirely unsupported damning general statements about Ulster Protestants.

    For the record, Mr TommyTooka’s remarks have now been removed for reasons of poor taste. I’m reluctant to ban ‘homophobia’ as such, since that’s getting close to making a political call. And there is a very thin line between coming down hard on ad hominem remarks and saving people from their own self-damning stupidity.

  • nutjack

    very very sad.

    how would William of Orange have been recieved in 2006? with a ‘Ulster says no to Sodomites’ banner?

    what a remarkable place NI is!

  • RmcC

    Was he gay as well then? Didn’t know that.

  • nutjack

    his pageboys rode side-saddle and his curtains matched his sofa – i’d say case closed.

    while i’m in full-on steroetype mode, is there anywhere where you can download an orange band playing ‘The Chaps My Father Wore?’

    *apologies in advance*

  • Animus

    A sad story indeed, but not likely to get better until NI has a change in attitude to gays and lesbians – thinking of them as individuals with whole lives, not just who they choose as sexual partners.

    Brian – are you gay? There is a big difference between being perceived as gay when one is straight and being perceived as gay and either being gay or being confused. It isn’t just the insults, it’s the fact that many people feel pretty cavalier about rejecting gays and lesbians wholesale. It takes a great deal of courage to say, “well if you don’t like gays, you don’t like me, because I am.” In that age range, people don’t want to stick out, or if they do, they want to stick out about something they choose, like music, or film.

    I work with a couple of lesbians in my office and one of them was telling me how her parents think she has ‘rebelled’ because her life is not what they had planned for her – they were hoping for the happy marriage, kids and a dog and it’s not going to happen. She’s out and comfortable with that, but it’s easy to see that for many people, going against their family’s and friend’s expectations could be very painful.

    Schools should be doing as much as possible to address these issues. Get rid of RE and replace it with civics.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    We really can’t expect much from a place that is massively over-churched and over-chapelled. One of the few things most people (this board excepted) in NI seem to agree on is that abortion is murder and homosexuality is an abomination.
    And this despite the fact that Jesus didn’t condemn either according to that great ‘put your own spin on it’ tome the bible. The fact that he wasn’t keen on personal aggrandishment or making women second-class citizens appears to have gone conveniently un-noticed by the guardians of western morality. As long as the men in black are spouting homophobia, this nonsense will be passed from father to son ad infinitum.
    Rather than backing Blair’s barking attitude to religious hatred and ridicule, the govt should be appointing commissions to oversee exactly what is said and done in these so-called places of worship, and weed out clerics who abuse both physically and verbally.

  • RmcC

    Well said, Gerry. Those who judge others according to the gallimaufry of shíte known as the bible should take care. Why? Because that same “book” can just as easily be quoted against them.

    For instance, do we notice how no mention is ever made in clerical circles of millstones, necks and casting into the sea when news reaches us of clergymen raping children?

  • nutjack

    verbally abusing people for the book that they read smells of Berlin circa 1933. You can read what you want into it, but that don’t make it a bad book.

    do like the word ‘gallimaufry’ though, must use it more in conversation.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Nutjack — as far as I’m concerned you can read whatever book you want, but the bible is actually 66 books stuck together. Most of them can’t be dated or even authored. Read away at it, but don’t tell me that I can’t have sex with the partner of my choice on the basis of an enigma wrapped in a mystery garnished with prejudice and imagination.

  • RmcC

    “verbally abusing people for the book that they read smells of Berlin circa 1933. You can read what you want into it, but that don’t make it a bad book.”

    Sorry mate I did nothing of the sort. I’m abusing the book, not those who read it. Far as I’m concerned a person is entitled to read any old tosh he likes. But if he uses balderdash contained in that book to make things sultry for my friends and neighbors then I speak out.

    The bible is rubbish. It can’t even get the value of pi right. And it’s trying to teach me morality?

  • gg

    “Verbally abusing people for the book that they read smells of Berlin circa 1933. You can read what you want into it, but that don’t make it a bad book.”

    I think books can actually be bad. To continue your use of imagery, think Landsberg Prison 1924.

    “The bible is rubbish.”

    I think certain parts are quite strange. But as a gay man (from Northern Ireland) I think Jesus had a generally inclusive and positive message which some of the religious zealots could do with rereading.

  • Homoneutral

    The only Gay I can’t stand is Byrne.

  • RmcC


    But… Pat Kenny is an improvement????

  • El Macho

    Homophobia is only for insecure guys who are either closet cases themselves or just can’t be sure they can hack it with the women. The confident heteros like me look on gays as a blessing: the more of them there are, the less competition for the crumpet.

  • Brian Boru

    Homophobes of a Loyalist persuasion should remember that King Billy was bisexual. Maybe that will make them think again.

  • RmcC

    Gosh, El Macho, that was truly profound!

    Did you type all that with one hand?

  • El Macho

    Brian Boru —

    If King Billy was AC/DC, at least he was capable of an even-handed approach to both sides. Would that today’s Orange anal-retentives could follow his example. Seriously, though, I wish people would juts live and let live. It is tragic that gays feel they have to commit suicide because people are so unfeeling and even cruel.

  • slug

    Suicide is a terrible experience for the relatives involved, and that is equally bad whether the young person is gay or straight. In both cases the family feels a very strong sense of guilt, what could they have done differently, were they to blame?

    The saddest story I have read in a long time was this one in which both parents committed suicide after the suicide of their son. It is impossible for any of us to know how much pain that family went through.

    I am sure that we need to think as a society about why it is that the suicide rate is so high.

    I count amongst my friends one person who successfully committed suicide. A highly trained medic who had all the talent and ambition in the world. He injected something into his neck. It was a great shock for me and for all his friends. Similarly I cound amongst my extended family another who committed suicide. Again by coincidence a successful medical student who had won academic medals. Very shocking and stressful and in both cases high achievers who achieved so much and yet it was not good enough.

    I also have a cousin who has attempted suicide many times and failed. His mental health was always poor but he has the support of a loving family, but a family that is very miserable because of his illness.

    This is a kind of illness it seems to me. In all three cases the people had one thing in common, that they somehow felt inadequate, not good enough. You can see how homosexuals in a straight world might feel inadequate. They can’t live the same life of having children and and can’t share their feelings – feelings of love or experience – with their friends and family.

    It is ironically something that the culture of today may exacerbate, where there is more awareness of homosexuality, everyone is pressured to be in a sexual relationship, so people are more quickly outed or suspected of being gay.

    The rise in suicide is a worrying trend. Each suicide is a tragedy for the subject and for his friends and family.

  • slug

    I have just remembered that the first person I mentioned, my medic friend who injected himself, was gay. Whether this was part of it I do not know (I had not connected the two things until now). I know he had great difficulty coming to terms with his homosexuality.

  • RmcC

    Slug, I have to say that story about the Welsh family is about the saddest I’ve read in a long time 🙁

    Just my two cents, but maybe people in these islands are less open than elsewhere, less ready to share their troubles with others.

    NI in particular seems to have this in spades. I’ve lived here for about 8 years and it’s still obvious to me how closed people are. They look so glum and depressed, refuse to meet your eye on the street or elsewhere.

    And here’s one for the guys. Everywhere else I’ve been in the world if a man goes to a lavatory cubicle instead of joining the others at the urinals, he’s suspected of “small willy syndrome”. In NI it’s the norm. What does this say?

    More openness is needed. People need to talk. What was it the poet said: No man is an island.

  • Doctor Who

    Brian Borou

    Not that it really matters, but William the third was neither Gay or Bisexual.

    This was propaganda spread at the time of the Williamite wars and still circulates today among narrow minded Republicans.

    If you read all reliable contemporary historians and biographers of William the third they will confirm this.

    Personally I think Gay´s have come a long way in NI over the last ten years. The Cathedral Quarter in Belfast has a thriving Gay scene as I seem to remember.

    In fact didn´t Republicans murder a Gay Policeman in that area not so long ago.

  • No Back Doors

    It is terrible suicide, but so is sodomy.

    Both sodomy and suicide are sins in every beleif. I feel compassion for these beasts and beg the Blessed Father to take pity on their souls.

  • Queen Liza

    No Back Doors

    your going to do something with ¨our souls¨.

    Oh! I´m all for that duckie!

  • Doctor Who


    your story was indeed very moving. What I find puzzling though is that Suicide amongst gay people seems to be exclusively from young Homosexuel men as opposed to Lesbians.

    Is being Lesbian more socially acceptable that being a Gay man. Or are women more in control of their sexuality. It would be intertesting to hear from Gay men and Lesbians what they felt about this.

    No Back Doors

    Your compassion shines through.

  • Paul

    No Back Doors (if you really exist), I’m not bible hungry but I have read that the good book has many,many,many more strictures and hards words to say about usury(lending money) than about sodomy or any other sexual antics. How come Christian zealouts have so much to say about homosexuality and so very little about borrowing and lending money? The good people at the Ulster Bank and the Northern Bank should be advised that their black souls will burn in everlasting flames for their sins against their maker. How come they are not? Is the bible “pick’n’mix”? Don’t you care about their souls?

  • No Back Doors

    Paul, it is true the Bible says it is easier to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. The Holy Book also teaches that men who lie with men are sinners.
    God gives life and he also takes life so these sodomite suicides will need to beg God for forgiveness for two awful acts of abhorence.
    I do feel compassion for these sinners but we live in a place that teaches children that it is perfectly ok to indulge in sexual acts with people of the same sex.
    All I´m saying it is not, they are monsters.

  • RmcC

    Dr Who

    “What I find puzzling though is that Suicide amongst gay people seems to be exclusively from young Homosexuel men as opposed to Lesbians. ”

    It’s just a theory but I think it comes down to what I said about openness. Men are notorious for not being able to confide in one another, and young men don’t seem able to confide in anyone at all.

    Women are better at this, hetero and lesbian.

  • missfitz

    There has been some debate about the accuracy of this survey, it apparently lacked a control and the sample was not neutral.

    That is in no way negating the issue of suicide, the high rates in NI and the level of intolerance in this society, but just to introduce a note of caution on this particular piece of research.

    Suicide is more common in males in the late teens to late 20’s, but can occur at any age. Sadly, I deal with what is left sometimes, and it is not an easy job.

    I am often reminded of comments made by the Irish Minsister, Jim McDaid some years ago. There was uproar when he said that suicide was a truly selfish act. I now know that he was correct, it is a completely self centred, selfish act. But it is an act that very often cannot be helped or deterred, and there is often an inevitability about someone who is determined on this course of action.

    I hope that the new funding and some of the new schemes may offer new hope and treatment modalities for potential suicides

  • RmcC

    “But it is an act that very often cannot be helped or deterred, and there is often an inevitability about someone who is determined on this course of action.”

    This I know from a good friend who committed suicide not long ago. None of us expected it. He was really calm, almost cheerful, right up to the end. He simply could not handle the world.

    I do wish people like Back Door would keep their awful prejudices to themselves though. They’re not helping anyone. On the contrary, all their inane talk about divine punishment makes potential suicides feel even worse about the world. A little compassion and less judgement would not be misplaced.

  • Paul

    No Back Door, what is your opinion about usury? Do you think that people who lend money and charge interest are condemned to the flames of hell? Do you think society should act against such people? Should all the banks, building societies and credit card companies be shut down as thay are disobeying “God’s law”? Do you think money lenders are abominations against God? The bible says they are, what is your get-out?
    Of course, acting against usury would bring consumer capitalism to its knees, but then, the word of God is paramount isn’t it?