Suicidality among Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth: The Role of Protective Factors

Marla E. Eisenberg, Michael D. Resnick

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    376 Scopus citations


    Purpose: Many reports have indicated that gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) youth are particularly vulnerable to poor outcomes, including suicide. Certain protective factors are likely to reduce this risk. The present study examines four protective factors (family connectedness, teacher caring, other adult caring, and school safety) and their association with suicidal ideation and attempts among adolescents with same-gender experience. Methods: Data come from the 2004 Minnesota Student Survey of 9th and 12th grade students; 21,927 sexually active youth were grouped according to the gender of their sex partner(s) into GLB and non-GLB groups. Four protective factors and suicidal ideation and attempts were compared across groups. Logistic regression was used to examine the influence of protective factors on suicide, and predicted probabilities of suicidal ideation and attempts were estimated using general linear modeling. Results: There were 2,255 respondents who reported same-gender experience. Over half of GLB students had thought about suicide and 37.4% reported a suicide attempt. GLB youth reported significantly lower levels of each protective factor than their non-GLB peers. Family connectedness, adult caring, and school safety were significantly protective against suicidal ideation and attempts. Risk associated with a GLB sexual orientation is largely mediated through protective factors. Conclusions: Sexual orientation alone accounts for only a small portion of variability in suicidal ideation and attempts. If protective factors were enhanced among GLB youth, suicide in this population is expected to be considerably lower. Protective factors examined here are amenable to change and should be targeted in interventions.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)662-668
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Nov 2006

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    Notice of source of data: Minnesota Student Survey provided by public school students in Minnesota via local public school districts and managed by the Minnesota Student Survey Interagency Team, 2004. This work was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number 1-U48-DP-000063, Prevention Research Centers, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


    • Protective factors
    • Resiliency
    • Sexual orientation
    • Suicide


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