Analyzing the Connection between Sexual Minority Status and Suicide Outcomes: Defining the Role of Socioeconomic Status

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The Ohio State University

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While recent history has seen significant progress in the legal and social acceptance of non-heterosexual people in the United States, these changes have not necessarily resulted in improved health outcomes for all sexual minorities. The bounds of heterosexism and social prejudice against sexual minorities, and the normalized status of heterosexual orientations, have continued to result in disparate mental and physical health outcomes as sexual and gender minorities remain confined to the will of the heterosexual and cisgender majority. Research has identified sexual minority individuals as being at a heightened risk for mental health problems such as medically diagnosed mental disorders, deliberate self-harm, and suicidal ideation as compared to their strictly heterosexual counterparts. Furthermore, the association between mental health and suicidal ideation is more pronounced among sexual minority individuals, suggesting more significant health consequences of poor mental health for this population. Extant research has identified the powerful causal role of socioeconomic status in explaining disparities in suicide outcomes, but whether and to what extent this association is evident for sexual minority individuals has yet to be examined. Drawing on fundamental cause theory and the minority stress process model, I consider alternative hypotheses regarding the association between socioeconomic status and suicide outcomes of sexual minority individuals as compared to the sexual majority. To do so, I draw upon Wave IV (n = 15,701) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) and logistic regression to assess whether and how the association between socioeconomic resources and suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior varies for sexual minority individuals compared to heterosexual individuals. Sexual minority status and socioeconomic status were associated with suicidal ideation and attempt, though the effects of SMS outweighed SES in effect. The results of this research contribute to health disparities literature by providing insight into factors preventative of suicidal outcomes, particularly for sexual minority individuals. Exploring this intersection might prompt additional research informing the ways in which structural and social intervention can address such group-level disparity.



sexual minority status, suicide, socioeconomic status, minority stress