Interrelationships between LGBT-based victimization, suicide, and substance use problems in a diverse sample of sexual and gender minorities

Psychol Health Med. 2014;19(1):1-13. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2013.780129. Epub 2013 Mar 27.


Research has documented significant relationships between sexual and gender minority stress and higher rates of suicidality (i.e. suicidal ideation and attempts) and substance use problems. We examined the potential mediating role of substance use problems on the relationship between sexual and gender minority stress (i.e. victimization based on lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identity [LGBT]) and suicidality. A nonprobability sample of LGBT patients from a community health center (N = 1457) ranged in age from 19-70 years. Participants reported history of lifetime suicidal ideation and attempts, substance use problems, as well as experiences of LGBT-based verbal and physical attacks. Substance use problems were a significant partial mediator between LGBT-based victimization and suicidal ideation and between LGBT-based victimization and suicide attempts for sexual and gender minorities. Nuanced gender differences revealed that substance use problems did not significantly mediate the relationship between victimization and suicide attempts for sexual minority men. Substance use problems may be one insidious pathway that partially mediates the risk effects of sexual and gender minority stress on suicidality. Substances might be a temporary and deleterious coping resource in response to LGBT-based victimization, which have serious effects on suicidal ideation and behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / psychology
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sexuality / psychology
  • Sexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Discrimination / psychology*
  • Social Identification
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Transgender Persons / psychology
  • Transgender Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult