Date of Award

5-2017

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Michael Anestis, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Psychology

Abstract

Previous research suggests that sexual minority individuals have a higher risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts than do heterosexual individuals. Little research has been done to determine what may cause these differences and how living in a conservative region may contribute to it. This study sought to compare risk factors for suicidal ideation among heterosexual and sexual minority college students in southern Mississippi. To do so, suicidal ideation was examined, as well as thwarted belongingness (TB) and perceived burdensomeness (PB) – two robust predictors of suicidal ideation. It was hypothesized that sexual minorities would have elevated TB, PB, and suicidal ideation levels compared to heterosexual individuals. Feelings of actual and expected rejection were also examined in terms of their impact on TB, PB, and suicidal ideation. It was hypothesized that feelings of actual and expected rejection would serve as predictors of TB, PB, and ideation. Participants were 1199 undergraduate college students, 141 of whom identified as a sexual minority. It was found that PB was significantly higher among sexual minorities than heterosexual individuals (F=19.59, p<.001, pη2=.016), TB was not significantly different (F=.500, p=.480, pη2<.001), and suicidal ideation was not significantly different when controlling for depression (F=.017, p=.897, pη2<.001), but was significant when depression was not added as a covariate (F=21.42, p<.001, pη2=.018). It was also found that feelings of actual and expected rejection by important others did not predict TB, PB, or ideation. However, when rejection by a parent and rejection by a heterosexual friend were isolated, it was found that actual rejection by a heterosexual friend predicted TB and that actual rejection by a parent predicted suicidal ideation with depression as a covariate. These results indicate that sexual minorities, when compared to heterosexual individuals, do not have higher TB, but do have higher rates of PB and suicidal ideation.

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