Explaining the suicide risk of sexual minority individuals by contrasting the minority stress model with suicide models

Arch Sex Behav. 2014 Nov;43(8):1559-70. doi: 10.1007/s10508-014-0268-4. Epub 2014 Feb 27.


Many studies have found elevated levels of suicide ideation and attempts among sexual minority (homosexual and bisexual) individuals as compared to heterosexual individuals. The suicide risk difference has mainly been explained by minority stress models (MSTM), but the application of established suicidological models and testing their interrelations with the MSTM has been lacking so far. Therefore, we have contrasted two established models explaining suicide risk, the Interpersonal Psychological Theory (IPT) (Joiner, 2005) and the Clinical Model (CM) (Mann et al., 1999), with the MSTM (Meyer, 2003) in a Bavarian online-sample of 255 adult sexual minority participants and 183 heterosexual participants. The results suggested that the CM and the IPT model can well explain suicide ideation among sexual minorities according to the factors depression, hopelessness, perceived burdensomeness, and failed belongingness. The CM and the IPT were intertwined with the MSTM via internalized homophobia, social support, and early age of coming out. Early coming out was associated with an increased suicide attempt risk, perhaps through violent experiences that enhanced the capability for suicide; however, coming out likely changed to a protective factor for suicide ideation by enhanced social support and reduced internalized homophobia. These results give more insight into the development of suicide risk among sexual minority individuals and may be helpful to tailor minority-specific suicide prevention strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bisexuality / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Risk
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult