Shocking new statistics from GMFA’s FS magazine show that nearly one quarter of gay men who have suffered from depression have tried to kill themselves.
A startling survey in the latest issue of FS magazine uncovers the true extent of the effects of depression on gay men. Around 600 men, who identified that they had or were suffering from depression, were asked if they had tried to commit suicide and around 24%, nearly one quarter, said they had, that number increased to over half when asked if they had had suicidal thoughts.
Around 54% of gay men surveyed said that they had considered ending their lives, with self-esteem being the biggest contributor to their thoughts.
For those men living with HIV, 66% identified their diagnosis as the leading cause of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Simon, 36 from Oxford, is one of the many HIV-positive gay men who responded. He says: “I was diagnosed with HIV in January 2012. I was having lots of risky sex and I knew eventually it would happen but didn’t really care. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed that reality set in. I wasn’t ready for it and became depressed. It affected my job. It affected my social life and I became a recluse.”
Anthony is 26 and from London. He told FS that after his diagnosis he couldn’t handle it. He said: “About three months after I was told I was HIV-positive I tried to overdose. I didn’t cope at all with being told I had the virus. I thought my life was over and suicide was the best option. Luckily my attempt failed.”
When asked, what were the main reasons HIV-positive gay men felt suicidal or why they attempted suicide, 66% said ‘Living with HIV’ was the main issue with ‘Low self-esteem (60%) and relationship issues (39%).
“HIV remains one of the most stigmatised of all health conditions,” says Matthew Hodson, Chief Executive of GMFA. “Rates of depression among gay men with HIV are twice as high as they are among other gay men, affecting about one in every four men. And depression in men with HIV can lead to poor adherence, which can have a major impact on their physical health as well.
“Depression also has an impact on someone’s likelihood of becoming HIV-positive,” adds Matthew. “A recent study showed that men with depressive symptoms were more likely to have unprotected sex, and to have unprotected sex with several partners. Tackling the mental health challenges faced by gay men is crucial if we are going to reduce the high levels of sexual risk-taking and high incidence of HIV in our community.”
“Gay men are just as likely to face the same everyday struggles straight people face on a day-to-day basis with the added pressure of their sexuality. For HIV-positive gay men the issues they faced were greater due to their diagnosis. The gay men in our new issue wanted to share their stories in a bid to help other gay men realise that they are not alone. The first thing to do when trying to fix a problem is admitting you have one. So, hello gay people… we have a problem.”
Last year helpline charity Samaritans revealed that 1 in ten male callers were worried about their sexuality.
The new issue of FS magazine can be read online for free by going to: www.fsmag.org.uk
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