Bullying and suicide risk among sexual minority youth in the United States
Smith, A.U. & Reidy, D.
Bullying is associated with increased suicide risk and maladaptive development for sexual minority youth (SMY). The purpose of this study is to determine whether multiple forms of bullying mediate the relationship between biological sex and suicide risk among SMY and to determine whether sexual identity moderates these relationships (i.e., moderated mediation). Data from the 2015–2019 National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey was analyzed using multiple group structural equation modeling with the 5967 youth that self-identified as Lesbian/Gay, Bisexual, or Not sure of their sexual identity. All forms of bullying were associated with suicide risk. After controlling for bullying, Male SMY reported less suicide risk in comparison to female SMY. Female SMY were more likely to be cyberbullied while male SMY were more likely to be threatened or injured with a weapon. Sexual identity did not moderate these relationships. These finding align with the minority stress theory which posits the victimization experiences are linked to negative mental health outcomes among minority youth. Although sexual identity did not moderate these relationships, this study reveals new mechanistic pathways influencing sex-based suicide risk disparities among SMY. Findings can inform future research and the development of suicide prevention interventions that address the unique needs of SMY occurring at the intersection of sex and sexual identity.