Variation in Suicide Risk among Subgroups of Sexual and Gender Minority College Students

Adam G. Horwitz, Johnny Berona, Danielle R. Busby, Daniel Eisenberg, Kai Zheng, Jacqueline Pistorello, Ronald Albucher, William Coryell, Todd Favorite, Joseph C. Walloch, Cheryl A. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Sexual and gender minorities are at elevated risk for suicide, yet few studies have examined differences in risk within many sexual and gender minority subgroups. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in prevalence for suicide risk factors among a wide range of sexual orientations and gender identities. Method: Forty-one thousand four hundred and twelve college students (62% cis-female, 37% cis-male, 1% transgender/genderqueer) completed a wellness screen that included four suicide risk factors (depression, heavy alcohol use, suicide ideation, suicide attempt). Results: Gender minority students (i.e., transgender, genderqueer/non-binary) had significantly higher rates of depression, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts relative to cisgender peers, although there were no within-group differences among gender minority students. Adjusted odds ratios for endorsing two or more (2+) suicide risk factors were substantially higher for all sexual minority subgroups relative to heterosexuals. Among sexual minorities, those identifying as pansexual, bisexual, queer, or mostly gay/lesbian had greater odds of endorsing 2+ suicide risk factors relative to students identifying as mostly heterosexual, gay/lesbian, asexual, or ‘other sexual minority’. Pansexual students had 33% greater odds of endorsing 2+ suicide risk factors relative to bisexual students. Conclusions: These findings highlight significant variation in suicide risk among sexual minority subgroups and the need for targeted interventions for subgroups at highest risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1041-1053
Number of pages13
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
Volume50
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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