Publication Date

Summer 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Amy M. Brausch (Director), Jenni Teeters, and Matthew Woodward

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death in the United States in which there is a large disparity in prevalence of suicide ideation and attempts among sexual minority individuals and heterosexual counterparts. Furthermore, it has been established that sexual minority women are at increased risk of suicidality even when compared to sexual minority men. Despite this large disparity in suicidal behavior, there is a dearth of research dedicated to assessing negative mental health outcomes in sexual minority women. Although the common theoretical model of suicide (IPTS) hypothesizes that one must have neglected interpersonal psychological needs and acquired capability, further theory is necessary to explain why such a disparity between sexual minority women and heterosexual counterparts persists. Minority Stress Theory (MST) hypothesizes that sexual minorities experience minority-specific stressors in additional to general stressors. This study aimed to 1) establish differences in suicidality and IPTS constructs between sexual minority women and heterosexual women and 2) determine the applicability of the IPTS and interaction with MST constructs is associated suicide risk within sexual minority women. Data was collected from an international database ( A total of 732 participants were recruited with 542 sexual minority women and 190 heterosexual women. Participants had to be fluent in English, cisgender women, and aged 18 to 25.

Results indicated sexual minority women had greater levels of perceived burdensomeness, thwarted belongingness, acquired capability, past year suicide ideation, and lifetime suicide attempts when compared to heterosexual women. However, the hypotheses of the IPTS were only partially supported in a sample of sexual minority women as perceived burdensomeness was the only significant predictor of past year suicide ideation and lifetime suicide attempts. In addition, none of the MST constructs (outness, internalized homophobia, and discriminatory events) mediated the relationships between IPTS predictors and suicide outcomes. The current study added to the limited literature that has examine suicide risk in sexual minority women. More specifically, it was suggested that perceived burdensomeness was important in predicting risk for suicide in sexual minority women.


Clinical Psychology | Psychology | Women's Health

Available for download on Friday, August 02, 2024