Background: Bisexual-identifying individuals are at heightened risk for engaging in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), with the odds up to six times higher compared to heterosexual individuals and up to four times higher compared to lesbian/gay (L/G) individuals. While research has established that sexual minorities may be at increased risk because minority stressors exacerbate psychological processes associated with NSSI, little research has examined bisexual-specific pathways of risk. In this study, we replicated findings that suggest Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (IPTS) variables (i.e., perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness) mediate the association between minority stress and NSSI and extended these findings by examining whether such mediation is moderated by sexual minority identity. Furthermore, we explored whether IPTS variables mediate the association between bisexual-specific minority stress and NSSI.
Method: A sample of 259 cisgender L/G (n = 93) and bisexual (n = 166) MTurk workers completed measures assessing minority stress, NSSI, and IPTS variables.
Results: Mediation analyses replicated findings that experiences of minority stress increase NSSI by increasing perceived burdensomeness [PB], though moderated mediation analyzes failed to provide evidence that sexual minority identity moderated this indirect effect. Rather, minority stress from both heterosexual and L/G individuals increased NSSI through increased PB for bisexual individuals.
Limitations: The use of cross-sectional data does not allow conclusions of causal relationships.
Conclusions: These results suggest that for bisexual individuals, minority stress from both heterosexual and L/G individuals increases NSSI by increasing PB. Future researchers and clinicians should consider the additive burden of minority stress in bisexual individuals.
Keywords: Bisexual; Interpersonal theory of suicide; Minority stress; NSSI; Perceived burdensomeness.