The mediating role of emotion regulation on self-harm among gender identity and sexual orientation minority (LGBTQ+) individuals
Kapatais, A., Williams, A.J., & Townsend, E.
Objective: The present study was conducted to (1) investigate the role of emotion regulation difficulties among self-harming Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Questioning (LGBTQ+) individuals and (2) to test for a mediating role of emotion regulation difficulties in self-harm among LGBTQ + individuals. Method: This study investigated the relationship between LGBTQ + status, self-reported levels of emotion regulation difficulties, and self-harm in a community sample (N = 484, aged 16-63), using an online cross-sectional survey. Results: LGBTQ + individuals reported more emotion regulation difficulties and were almost seven times more likely to self-harm than non-LGBTQ + participants. Being an LGBTQ + participant was associated with greater self-harm frequency when controlling for age, income, and difficulties in emotion regulation. Emotion regulation difficulties mediated the association between LGBTQ + status and both self-harm status and frequency. Conclusions: The present findings suggest that treating emotion regulation difficulties might reduce both the prevalence and lifetime frequency of self-harm episodes among gender identity and sexual orientation minority individuals. Targeting emotion regulation might be used as an early prevention strategy among LGBTQ + individuals who are at risk for self-harm. Further, enhancing emotion regulation skills among self-harming LGBTQ + individuals might replace maladaptive emotion regulation strategies with healthy alternatives, and can, therefore, foster resilience.