Explaining Self-Harm: Youth Cybertalk and Marginalized Sexualities and Genders

Elizabeth McDermott, Katrina Roen, Anna Piela

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    This study investigates self-harm among young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) people. Using qualitative virtual methods, we examined online forums to explore young LGBT people’s cybertalk about emotional distress and self-harming. We investigated how youth explained the relationship between self-harm and sexuality and gender. We found that LGBT youth may articulate contradictory, ambiguous, and multiple accounts of the relationship but there were three strong explanations: (a) self-harm was because of homophobia and transphobia; (b) self-harm was due to self-hatred, fear, and shame; (c) self-harm was emphatically not related to sexuality or gender. There was evidence of youth negotiating LGBT identities, managing homophobia, resisting pathologization, and explaining self-harm as a way of coping.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)873-889
    Number of pages17
    JournalYouth and Society
    Issue number6
    Early online date29 May 2013
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


    • bisexual
    • gay
    • gender
    • homophobia
    • intersex
    • lesbian
    • pathologization
    • queer
    • self-harm
    • sexuality
    • stigma
    • suicide
    • transgender
    • youth


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