Sexual minority youth have a higher risk of suicidal behaviors than their straight peers. Despite this alarming trend, there is limited information on how health-risk factors are systematically associated with suicidal outcomes in relation to the intersection of sex and sexual orientation identity. Data from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (Grades 9–12, N = 14,108) were analyzed to examine three distinct suicidal outcomes (i.e., suicidal ideation, suicide planning, and suicide attempt). Separate hierarchical logistic regression models were performed to gradually adjust for influencing factors in examining the association between suicidal outcomes and sexual orientation identity (i.e., heterosexual, gay/lesbian, bisexual, and unsure), stratified by self-reported sex. There exist significant differences in youth suicidal behaviors based on sexual orientation identity and sex: lesbians (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.7, 95% CI [1.5, 5.0]), bisexual girls (AOR = 1.9, 95% CI [1.3, 2.6]) and bisexual boys (AOR = 2.6, 95% CI [1.3, 5.2]) had higher odds of suicide attempts than their straight peers. Unsure boys and girls also reported higher risks of suicidal ideation and suicide plan as compared with their straight peers. Having a very short sleep duration, reporting ever use of illicit drugs, being bullied, and feeling sad/hopeless were associated with elevated risks of suicidality across males and females. This study identified potential disparities in suicidal outcomes by sexual orientation identity as well as factors that attenuate or strengthen this relationship in a representative sample of adolescents across the United States. An improved understanding of the differences in suicidal outcomes will serve as an opportunity to ameliorate any potential inequalities and improve sexual minority youth’ health outcomes.
- suicidal ideation
- suicide attempt
- suicide plan
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health