Corresponding author Dr. Brett Thombs of the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at the Jewish General Hospital and co-author Dr. Richard Montoro of the McGill University Health Centre found those teens who self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, or who were unsure of their sexual identity, were at higher risk for suicidal ideation and attempts.
However, teens who had same-sex attractions or sexual experiences -- but thought of themselves as heterosexual -- were at no greater risk than the population at large. The majority of teens with same-sex sexual attraction or experience considered themselves to be heterosexual, the researchers said.
"This is the first study that has separated sexual identity from sexual attractions and behaviors in looking at risk for poor mental health outcomes," Thombs said in a statement.
A large proportion of people who have sex with or are attracted to people of the same sex do not identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, Montoro said.
Sexual orientation has three different components -- the first is identity, which is dependent on the society in which one lives; the second is attraction or fantasy and the third is behavior, Thombs said.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.