Integrating Minority Stress Theory and the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide among Sexual Minority Youth Who Engage Crisis Services

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2020 Jun;50(3):601-616. doi: 10.1111/sltb.12623. Epub 2020 Feb 12.


Objective: The present study sought to integrate minority stress theory (MST) and the interpersonal theory of suicide (ITS) to better understand high rates of suicide among sexual minority youth (SMY). To date, the ITS and MST have largely advanced independently from one another even though the research base for each theory contains gaps that the other theory may help fill.

Method: Using data from a national sample of 564 SMY (aged 12-24) recruited from an LGBTQ youth-focused suicide crisis prevention provider, we examined structural equation models to understand how perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness mediate the relationship between minority stress and suicidal ideation and attempt.

Results: Sexual minority stress was significantly associated with both perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness in models predicting suicidal ideation and attempt. Moreover, minority stress had a direct effect on suicide attempt and an indirect effect on both suicidal ideation and suicide attempt through burdensomeness.

Conclusions: Given that minority stress is associated with greater thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness, and suicide attempts, there should be greater demand for continuing education centered on sexual minority populations and population-specific services. Identifying burdensomeness as a minority stress-suicide mechanism highlights the potential gains of piloting recently developed burdensomeness interventions among SMY.

Keywords: interpersonal theory of suicide; minority stress theory; sexual minority youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities*
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Suicide, Attempted
  • Young Adult