Mental health and suicidality among racially/ethnically diverse sexual minority youths

Am J Public Health. 2014 Jun;104(6):1129-36. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301749. Epub 2014 Apr 17.


Objectives: We examined the relationships among sexual minority status, sex, and mental health and suicidality, in a racially/ethnically diverse sample of adolescents.

Methods: Using pooled data from 2005 and 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys within 14 jurisdictions, we used hierarchical linear modeling to examine 6 mental health outcomes across 6 racial/ethnic groups, intersecting with sexual minority status and sex. Based on an omnibus measure of sexual minority status, there were 6245 sexual minority adolescents in the current study. The total sample was n = 72,691.

Results: Compared with heterosexual peers, sexual minorities reported higher odds of feeling sad; suicidal ideation, planning and attempts; suicide attempt treated by a doctor or nurse, and self-harm. Among sexual minorities, compared with White youths, Asian and Black youths had lower odds of many outcomes, whereas American Native/Pacific Islander, Latino, and Multiracial youths had higher odds.

Conclusions: Although in general, sexual minority youths were at heightened risk for suicidal outcomes, risk varied based on sex and on race/ethnicity. More research is needed to better understand the manner in which sex and race/ethnicity intersect among sexual minorities to influence risk and protective factors, and ultimately, mental health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ethnicity / psychology
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Minority Groups / psychology
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Racial Groups / psychology
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology