Young persons who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) have higher rates of nonfatal suicidal behavior than their heterosexual peers. It has been suggested that suicidal behavior may be a painful but unavoidable rite of passage for LGB youths at the coming out stage. Could this mean that suicidal behavior is considered understandable and even permissible behavior for LGB youths at this stage? In this study we explored reactions to a suicidal decision when coming out was the precipitant of the suicidal act. Specifically, we compared attitudes toward a suicidal decision after coming out and being rejected by one's parents with attitudes toward a suicidal decision after experiencing other stressors (i.e., a physical illness, a relationship loss, or an academic failure). Contrary to expectation, the decision to engage in suicidal behavior following coming out was not viewed in relatively accepting terms. Rather, it was perceived as unsound and weak. As in previous studies, physical illness was singled out as a relatively understandable motivation for suicidal behavior. In addition, we found that androgynous persons viewed the suicidal decision as more unsound than other gender-identity types, independent of precipitant. Given similar evidence from other studies, future research might explore the role of androgyny in the protection against suicidal behavior.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 28, 2004
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