Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date



Sexual and gender minority adults experience a higher risk for suicide compared to their heterosexual, cisgender counterparts. Experiencing discrimination for sexual or gender identity has been shown to contribute to suicide risk, but the mechanisms driving this relationship are unknown. The current study incorporates suicide-specific processes outlined by the interpersonal psychological theory of suicide (IPTS; Joiner, 2005) to analyze the relationship between discrimination and suicide risk. I hypothesized that experiencing high rates of discrimination would be associated with suicide outcomes through the indirect effects of hopelessness regarding thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness. A sample of 178 sexual or gender minority-identifying adults completed an online questionnaire assessing minority-specific stressors and suicide-related thoughts and behaviors. I tested a multiple mediation model, and results indicated that more experiences of discrimination were associated with greater suicidal thoughts and behaviors through the indirect effect of hopelessness regarding thwarted belongingness, but not by hopelessness regarding perceived burdensomeness. Though causal conclusions cannot be drawn, these findings provide evidence that discriminatory experiences are associated with suicide-related cognitions. Furthermore, these findings partially support IPTS predictions in a diverse sample of sexual and gender minority adults and have applications to suicide prevention and research with sexual and gender minority-identifying people.

Level of Honors

magna cum laude




Lori M Hilt