Men's sexual orientation and suicide: Evidence for U.S. adolescent-specific risk

Stephen T Russell, Russell B. Toomey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


There is strong consensus in the research literature that adolescent and adult men who report same-sex sexual orientations, identities, and behaviors are at higher risk for suicide. Recent studies of general adolescent suicide risk have identified developmental trajectories that peak during the teenage years. Because the adolescent years are characterized by the development and heightened awareness of gender roles and sexual scripts closely tied to dominant cultural ideals of masculinity and heterosexuality, an adolescent-focused developmental trajectory for suicide risk might be particularly relevant for males with adolescent same-sex sexual orientations. We provide the first prospective examination of adolescent-specific risk for suicidality based on adolescent same-sex sexual orientation using data from the United States, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Tracing suicide ideation and attempts across four assessments from adolescence (Wave 1 average age 15.3 years) to young adulthood (Wave 4 average age 28.2), we documented that the risk for suicidal thoughts and attempts for adolescent same-sex attracted males is developmental in nature. Specifically, the risk for suicidal thoughts and attempts for males with same-sex attractions is largely limited to the adolescent years. These results offer new insights for suicide prevention and intervention for male adolescents and adults with same-sex sexual orientations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-529
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Adolescence
  • Adolescent development
  • Adolescents
  • Bisexual
  • Gay
  • Longitudinal
  • Sexual identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Suicidality
  • Suicide
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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