Young gay and bisexual men under age 26 are six times more likely to attempt suicide and deliberately harm themselves compared to older men of the same sexuality, a significant study has found.
According to researchers, they were also twice as likely to be depressed and anxious.
“We know minority groups are at higher risk of poor mental health than the heterosexual majority, however the mental health differences within sexual minorities is unclear,” said lead study author Ford Hickson from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“The study showed that among gay and bisexual men, age and ethnicity had a significant impact on mental health, as did income and education. This is possibly because men are better able to cope with homophobia the older they are, or if they are relatively privileged in other areas of their lives,” Hickson added in the paper published in the Journal of Public Health.
The team analysed mental health differences of 5,799 gay and bisexual men aged 16 and over living in Britain.
Depression, anxiety, attempted suicide and self-harm were examined against a range of life factors.
Age, ethnicity, income and education were all found to have a large impact on mental health.
The results revealed that that older men are able to cope better with homophobia and that homophobia is more prevalent in the lives of younger men.
They also found that gay and bisexual men may experience discrimination or marginalisation unrelated to their sexuality.
The key for positive mental health, with men who are living with a male partner 50 percent less likely to suffer from depression compared to gay and bisexual men living alone, the researchers noted.
The results reinforce the importance of mental health interventions reaching those who need them most, as well as people who actively seek help.