Suicide attempt rates and associations with discrimination are greatest in early adulthood for sexual minority adults across diverse racial and ethnic groups

Eric K. Layland, Cara Exten, Allen B. Mallory, Natasha D. Williams, Jessica N. Fish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Purpose: The study purpose was to investigate differences in past 5-year suicide attempts among racially/ethnically diverse sexual minority (SM) and heterosexual adults across the life course and examine the association of discrimination with past 5-year suicide attempts among SM adults. Methods: Using nationally representative data collected from 2012 to 2013, we assessed differences in age-varying prevalence of past 5-year suicide attempts among Black, Hispanic, and White SM and heterosexual adults (ages 18-60). We tested whether the association between discrimination and suicide attempts differed by race/ethnicity among SM adults. All secondary data analyses were approved by the Institutional Review Boards of The Pennsylvania State University and University of Maryland. Results: Compared with heterosexual adults of any race/ethnicity, SM adults exhibited elevated suicide attempt rates until the late twenties when prevalence for Black and Hispanic SM adults declined. Disparities persisted into the mid-40s for White SM adults. Among SM adults of all races/ethnicities, the relationship between SM discrimination and suicide attempts was strongest between ages 18 and 25. For SM adults reporting SM discrimination, odds of suicide attempts were 3.6 times higher for White SM adults and 4.5 times higher for Black and Hispanic SM adults, relative to same-race/ethnicity SM adults who did not report SM discrimination. The effect of SM discrimination was robust among Black and Hispanic SM young adults even when accounting for racial/ethnic discrimination. Conclusions: SM adults of all racial/ethnic groups demonstrated disparities when contrasted with heterosexual adults of any race/ethnicity, although ages characterized by heightened prevalence rates of suicide attempts differed by race/ethnicity. Early adulthood is a critical period for intervention seeking to disrupt the association between SM discrimination and suicide attempts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-447
Number of pages9
JournalLGBT Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Dermatology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Urology

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