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Predictors of Suicidal Ideation and Attempts among LGBTQ Adolescents: The Roles of Help-seeking Beliefs, Peer Victimization, Depressive Symptoms, and Drug Use

Abstract

Objectives

Suicide is a leading causes of death for adolescents, and is a developmental period with the highest rates of suicide attempts. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are a high-risk population for suicidal ideations and behaviors when compared with their non-LGBTQ counterparts. However, a dearth of research exists on the protective factors for suicidal ideation and attempts specifically within the LGBTQ population. The current study proposes a model in which peer victimization, drug use, depressive symptoms, and help-seeking beliefs predict suicidal ideation and attempts among a statewide sample of LGBTQ adolescents.

Methods

Among 4867 high school students in 20 schools, 713 self-identified as LGBTQ and had higher rates of attempts and ideation than their non-LBGTQ peers. Two logistic regression analyses were used to predict suicidal ideation and attempts among the 713 LGBTQ students (M = age 15 years).

Results

Results indicated that intentions to use drugs, peer victimization, and elevated depressive symptoms predicted both suicidal ideation and attempts. Additionally, help-seeking beliefs predicted suicidal attempts but not ideation, while the interaction of help-seeking beliefs and depressive symptoms significantly predicted suicidal ideation.

Conclusions

These findings underscore the importance of increasing access to effective treatment services for depression and promoting safe and accepting school and community cultures for LGBTQ youth in particular.

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Funding

Data in this manuscript were drawn from a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1 U01 CE002841) to Dorothy L. Espelage and Peter Wyman (Co-PIs).

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Hatchel, T., Ingram, K.M., Mintz, S. et al. Predictors of Suicidal Ideation and Attempts among LGBTQ Adolescents: The Roles of Help-seeking Beliefs, Peer Victimization, Depressive Symptoms, and Drug Use. J Child Fam Stud 28, 2443–2455 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-019-01339-2

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Keywords

  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicidal behaviors
  • LGBTQ youth
  • Substance use
  • Aggression