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Sexual Orientation and Disclosure of Suicidal Thoughts Before Suicide Mortality.

Clark KA, Blosnich JR. Sexual Orientation and Disclosure of Suicidal Thoughts Before Suicide Mortality. American journal of preventive medicine. 2023 Dec 1; 65(6):953-963.

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INTRODUCTION: Disclosure of suicidal thoughts and behaviors represents an opportunity to intervene before suicide mortality, representing a cornerstone for suicide prevention. Sexual minority (e.g., lesbian/gay, bisexual) people experience sharply elevated suicide risk, yet there is scant research on patterns of disclosure of suicidal thoughts and behaviors before suicide that might uncover missed opportunities for suicide prevention. Thus, authors leveraged postmortem suicide data to evaluate associations among sexual orientation, sex, and disclosure of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in the month preceding death. METHODS: Data on suicides from the 2013-2019 National Violent Death Reporting System (N = 155,516) were classified for sexual orientation and denoted disclosure of suicidal thoughts and behaviors and to whom suicidal thoughts and behaviors were disclosed in the month preceding death. Logistic regression models stratified by sex and adjusted for sociodemographic covariates assessed the associations between sexual orientation and suicidal thoughts and behaviors disclosure. Analyses were conducted from October 2022 to February 2023. RESULTS: Among females, sexual minority decedents were 65% more likely to disclose suicidal thoughts and behaviors than heterosexual decedents (95% CI = 37%, 99%, p < 0.001). No difference in suicidal thoughts and behaviors disclosure was observed between sexual minority and heterosexual men. Of decedents who disclosed suicidal thoughts and behaviors, one in five sexual minority decedents disclosed to a friend/colleague, whereas fewer than 5% disclosed to a healthcare professional. Among sexual minority females, younger age, intimate partner problems, and physical health problems were positively associated with disclosing suicidal thoughts and behaviors. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that reducing suicide mortality in sexual minority populations will require considering contexts beyond the healthcare system, including engaging peer networks. Gatekeeper training for suicide prevention may be an especially promising approach for reducing suicide among sexual minority women.

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