FS recently surveyed over 600 gay men and asked them to answer a series of questions revolving around health issues. The survey found that 24% of those men — who ranged in age from 17 to 65 — had tried to kill themselves at one point in their life, and 54% had contemplated suicide.
“These results may or may not be a reflection of the general gay population,” writes Stuart Haggas, “but they do put focus on the challenges gay men go through. Surely it’s time to face up to this crisis in mental health?”
Those surveyed listed a host of universal problems like lack of employment, money worries, stress, loneliness, or personal upheavals like the loss of a loved one or the end of an important relationship. But others had mental challenges that were more rooted in the past: being bullied at school, fear of coming out, ongoing and overwhelming guilt after enjoying intimacy and sex, and unrelenting feelings of loneliness.
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“It’s not til you live a little and look back that you see that many of us seemed to have had a similar journey,” writes FS editor Ian Howley. “How has it come to the point where we as a community accept that being depressed or suicidal at some point on our lives is like a ‘rite of passage’? In our survey, gay men cited ‘low self-esteem’ as the main reason for their depression and suicidal thoughts… We need to work on helping gay men, and especially young gay men, feel better about themselves.”