Young people confused about their sexuality are most vulnerable to suicide, a study of university students has revealed.

The University of Washington research found that while gay, lesbian and bisexual participants are twice as likely as heterosexuals to have attempted suicide, those who still have issues with defining their sexuality are six times as likely.

eOf the 528 participants, 79 of these identified themselves as same sex attracted heterosexuals and it was the number of suicide plans and attempts of this group that caused University of Washington researcher Heather Murphy the most concern.

“I was shocked by the finding because the rate for these students was just off the charts.

“They are still trying to fit into the mainstream heterosexual society and are not willing to talk to friends or go to a queer centre to talk about what they are experiencing.

“The gay culture has a family feeling that is welcoming and shows pride. However, these students are not there yet so they may be feeling shame and homophobia.” Murphy told uwnews.org.

The survey also found a significantly higher number cases of verbal and physical abuse directed towards the gay, lesbian, bisexual and same-sex attracted heterosexuals.

Murphy believes that the number of attempted suicides and suicidal thoughts reported can be largely attributed to homophobic bullying.

“There is a lot of hype that gay kids are more suicidal.

“My study shows that this is not so. In my study, being victimized for being gay was the risk factor that increased suicidal-behaviour risk.”