Testing the interpersonal theory of suicide in a sample of sexual minority young adults: Attention to within-group differences

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2023 Jun;53(3):415-425. doi: 10.1111/sltb.12952. Epub 2023 Mar 10.


Introduction: This study investigated demographic differences in interpersonal theory of suicide factors and their associations with suicide attempts among sexual minority young adults.

Methods: 784 sexual minority young adults ages 18-29 (42.7% cisgender men, 42.2% cisgender women, 15.1% transgender/gender diverse; 62.2% non-Hispanic White; 50.5% gay/lesbian, 49.5% bisexual+) completed an online survey assessing lifetime suicide attempts and interpersonal theory of suicide factors.

Results: Demographic differences included (1) greater perceived burdensomeness among transgender/gender diverse participants compared to other gender groups; (2) greater acquired capability for suicide and suicide attempts among cisgender men compared to cisgender women; (3) greater acquired capability for suicide among bisexual+ compared to gay/lesbian participants; and (4) a lower number of suicide attempts among Asian/Asian American sexual minority participants compared to most other sexual minority participants. All interpersonal theory of suicide factors were significantly associated with a higher number of suicide attempts, though only perceived burdensomeness and acquired capability for suicide remained significant when examining all three simultaneously. No two- or three-way interactions between interpersonal theory of suicide factors were significant.

Conclusion: The interpersonal theory of suicide may be useful for understanding suicide attempts in this population, with perceived burdensomeness and acquired capability being particularly relevant to consider.

Keywords: LGB; interpersonal theory of suicide; sexual minority; suicide.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bisexuality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted
  • Young Adult