The Mediating Role of Family Acceptance and Conflict on Suicidality among Sexual and Gender Minority Youth

David A. Klein*, Anwar E. Ahmed, Mikela A. Murphy, Arielle T. Pearlman, Nia Johnson, Joshua C. Gray, Natasha A. Schvey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Prior research suggests sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth are profoundly impacted by levels of parental support. This study assessed mediating effects of generalized family acceptance and conflict on lifetime suicidal behaviors among a large diverse sample comprising both SGM and non-SGM youth in early adolescence, when intervention to optimize family dynamics may be critical. Materials: Using data from the first-year follow-up of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study based in the United States, mediation was tested using a binary logistic regression model fitted with a generalized structural equation. Models included SGM status as the independent variable, family acceptance or family conflict sum score as the mediator, and the presence of lifetime suicidal behaviors as the dependent variable. Models adjusted for age, birth-assigned sex (as reported by the parent/guardian), and race/ethnicity. Results: Of 11,235 youths, lifetime suicidal behaviors were reported by 1.5% (n = 164). Youths with SGM identities reported 40% less parental acceptance and 47% greater family conflict, compared to non-SGM peers. Both parental acceptance and family conflict partially mediated associations between SGM identification and odds of lifetime suicidal behavior (ps =.001). Conclusions: Identification of modifiable risk factors for suicidality in this vulnerable population, including parental acceptance and family conflict, is critical to improving health outcomes. Clinicians should work with SGM youth and their families starting in childhood to optimize family dynamics and bolster acceptance to potentially reduce adverse health outcomes. HIGHLIGHTS Youths with SGM identity reported 40% less parental acceptance than non-SGM peers. Parental acceptance was associated with lower odds of lifetime suicidal behaviors. Family factors partially mediated associations between SGM status and suicidal behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1091-1098
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Suicide Research
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Children
  • LGBT
  • parent
  • suicidal behaviors
  • suicide
  • transgender

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