Sexual Minority Status and Suicidal Behavior

November 13, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

Programs seeking to prevent suicide among lesbian, gay, and bisexual people should target those who “self-identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual as well as persons who have same-sex attractions and behaviors but do not identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual,” recommend  researchers who studied sexual identity and suicidal behavior among Americans 24 to 34 years of age.

Their analysis of National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) data found an association between four measures of “sexual minority status” (i.e. sexual minority identity, sexual minority attraction, lifetime sexual minority behavior, sexual minority behavior in the previous 12 months) and suicidal thoughts for both men and women. Three of the measures of “sexual minority status” (the exception being sexual minority attraction) were also associated with suicide attempts among women. None were associated with suicide attempts among men.

The authors speculated that the lack of an association between attempt risk and sexual minority status among men could be the result of the protection afforded by an economic advantage enjoyed by this cohort during a particular historical period (ie, young adult men in 2007-2008) – an advantage that might not be available to other cohorts. They called for more research to explore the lack of association between sexual minority status and suicide attempts among men in this age group.

Almazan, E. P., Roettger, M. E., & Acosta, P. S. (2014). Measures of sexual minority status and suicide risk among young adults in the United States. Archives of Suicide Research 18(3), 274-281.