Understanding Protective Factors for Suicidality and Depression Among U.S. Sexual and Gender Minority Adolescents: Implications for School Psychologists

Matthew Rivas-Koehl, Alberto Valido, Dorothy L. Espelage, Luz E. Robinson, Jun Sung Hong, Tomei Kuehl, Sasha Mintz, Peter A. Wyman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth experience higher rates of adverse mental health outcomes, most notably suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs). The current study examines risk and protective factors for STBs and depression among 1,078 youth in high schools. We examine these outcomes through an intersectional lens, and we extend the use of the minority stress theory framework by focusing on resilience and protective factors and argue that bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth should be addressed at the systemic, rather than the individual, level. Our findings suggest that family support is a notable factor protective of depression and suicide-related behavior among LGBTQ youth. Additionally, peer support, help-seeking beliefs, access to medical and counseling services, engaging in healthy activities, spirituality, and having trusted adults are protective factors for some groups. The nuanced findings in this study offer suggestions for school psychologists and professionals to promote healthy and safe school environments. Impact Statement The present study addresses the prevalence of suicide among LGBTQ adolescents and protective factors that may buffer their heightened risk. LGBTQ students are not inherently at risk because of their identities, but because of stigmatization they may face in society. As such, recommendations are provided to guide school psychologists and other professionals to foster a safe and inclusive environment for this population to reduce suicide risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-303
Number of pages14
JournalSchool Psychology Review
Volume51
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 National Association of School Psychologists.

Keywords

  • LGBTQ youth
  • Rhonda C. Boyd
  • heterosexism
  • protective factors
  • resilience
  • school climate
  • suicide

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