Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Suicide Ideation and Attempt Among Sexual Minority Adults, United States, 2016-2018

Am J Public Health. 2020 May 21;110(7):e1-e7. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2020.305637. Online ahead of print.


Objectives. To examine how sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) are associated with suicide morbidity after controlling for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).Methods. Cross-sectional survey data are from the Generations survey, a nationally representative sample of 1518 nontransgender sexual minority adults recruited between March 28, 2016, and March 30, 2018, in the United States. Self-identified transgender individuals were included in a separate, related TransPop study. We used weighted multiple logistic regression analyses to assess the independent association of SOCE with suicidal ideation and suicide attempt while controlling for demographics and ACEs.Results. Approximately 7% experienced SOCE; of them, 80.8% reported SOCE from a religious leader. After adjusting for demographics and ACEs, sexual minorities exposed to SOCE had nearly twice the odds of lifetime suicidal ideation, 75% increased odds of planning to attempt suicide, and 88% increased odds of a suicide attempt with minor injury compared with sexual minorities who did not experience SOCE.Conclusions. Over the lifetime, sexual minorities who experienced SOCE reported a higher prevalence of suicidal ideation and attempts than did sexual minorities who did not experience SOCE.Public Health Implications. Evidence supports minimizing exposure of sexual minorities to SOCE and providing affirming care with SOCE-exposed sexual minorities. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print May 21, 2020: e1-e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2020.305637).