Family rejection predicting suicidal thoughts and behaviors among sexual minority males: Indirect effects through internalized homophobia and the interpersonal theory of suicide constructs

Brian Bulla


Past research has identified sexual minority males as presenting with more suicidal thoughts and behaviors in comparison to the general population, possibly due to additional stressors (e.g., family rejection, internalized homophobia) encountered throughout their lives that are specific to minority identities (Meyer, 2003). Extant literature has also examined constructs from the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (ITS; Joiner, 2005; Van Orden et al., 2008) with mixed support for each (e.g., perceived burdensomeness, thwarted belongingness, capability) predicting suicidal thoughts and behaviors among sexual minority males. The current study, therefore, sought to further existing literature by examining indirect effects of family rejection on suicidal ideation, number of past suicide attempts, and likelihood of future suicide, respectively, through internalized homophobia and the ITS constructs. Three hundred eleven cis-gender, sexual minority male community members were recruited from online social media boards and Amazon’s mTurk and completed a battery of questionnaires for the current study. Overall, as predicted, family rejection had a significant indirect effect on suicidal ideation through internalized homophobia and ITS constructs. Hypotheses for models predicting number of past suicide attempts and likelihood of future suicide attempts were partially supported. Capability for suicide largely exhibited unexpected relationships within our models. Possible explanations are discussed for these outcomes, as well as implications and future directions regarding the assessment and treatment of factors that predict suicidal thoughts and behaviors among sexual minority males.