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Examining risk factors for self-harm and suicide in LGBTQ+ young people: a systematic review protocol
  1. A Jess Williams1,2,
  2. Jon Arcelus3,
  3. Ellen Townsend2,
  4. Maria Michail1
  1. 1 Institute for Mental Health, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2 Self-Harm Research Group, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  3. 3 Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to A Jess Williams; a.williams.10{at}


Introduction Young people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ+) are at increased risk for self-harm, suicide ideation and behaviours. However, there has yet to be a comprehensive understanding of what risk factors influence these behaviours within LGBTQ+ young people as a whole. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine risk factors associated with self-harm, suicidal ideation and behaviour in LGBTQ+) young people.

Methods and analysis A systematic review will be conducted, conforming to the reporting guidelines of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement recommendations. Electronic databases (MEDLINE, Scopus, EMBASE, PsycINFO and Web of Science) will be systematically searched for cross-sectional, prospective, longitudinal, cohort and case–control designs which examine risk factors for self-harm and/or suicidal ideation and behaviour in LGBTQ+ young people (aged 12–25 years). Only studies published in English will be included. No date restrictions will be applied. Study quality assessment will be conducted using the original and modified Newcastle-Ottawa Scales. Meta-analysis or narrative synthesis will be used, dependent on findings.

Ethics and dissemination This is a systematic review of published literature and thereby ethical approval was not sought. The review will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, be publicly disseminated at conferences focusing on mental health, self-harm and suicide prevention. The findings will also be shared through public engagement and involvement, particularly those related to young LGBTQ+ individuals.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42019130037.

  • suicide & self-harm
  • gender identity
  • young people
  • sexual orientation
  • systematic review
  • protocol

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

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  • Contributors AJW, JA, ET and MM conceptualised the study. AJW developed the search strategy and conducted the literature search. AJW and MM wrote the first draft of the manuscript. AJW, JA, ET and MM reviewed, edited and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Midlands Graduate School Economic and Social Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership Joint Studentship awarded to A Jess Williams.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This is a systematic review of published literature and thereby ethical approval was not sought.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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