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A controlled study of depression and suicidal ideation among homosexual students in Nigeria

A controlled study of depression and suicidal ideation among homosexual students in Nigeria

Introduction and objectives: Homosexuality has been considered a mental health disorder and this pathological view was challenged four decades ago culminating in diagnostic systems (the ICD and DSM) regarding it as an alternative lifestyle rather than a pathological state. Homosexual individuals are prone to psychological distress, which may manifest as depression and suicidal ideation. This has been attributed to the lingering discrimination homosexual individuals are exposed to. There is a dearth of information in Nigeria with regards to this topic and this work is an attempt to fill this gap. The objectives of this study were to determine and compare the prevalence of depression and suicidal ideation in homosexual students and heterosexual controls in a Nigerian university.

Methods: 82 homosexual students were recruited using snow-balling technique while 82 age- and sex-matched controls were recruited using convenience sampling. Both groups completed a questionnaire containing socio-demographic and family background information, the Kinsey scale, the CAGE questionnaire, the Zung’s Self-Rating Depression scale (SDS) and the Positive and Negative Suicidal ideation Inventory (PANSI).
Results: The prevalence of depression was significantly higher in homosexual respondents than in heterosexual respondents (15.9% and 4.9% respectively). Similarly, homosexual respondents had a higher prevalence (30.5%) of suicidal ideation compared to those among heterosexual controls (11%). The relationship between sexual orientation and depression and suicidal ideation is influenced by factors such as on- or off-residence, suicide protection and family factors such as both parental neglect and gender atypical behaviour in childhood.
Conclusions: This research has shown that homosexual individuals are more likely to have depression and suicidal ideation compared to heterosexual individuals in conformity with previous reports. The role of resilience in mitigating the risk for depression and suicidal ideation in homosexual individuals was highlighted and would require further study as a possible target for potential therapeutic intervention.

Speakers: Olakunle Oginni
Areas of Interest / Categories: Depression, Discrimination, Resilience, WAS 2015

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