Abstract: Longitudinal Trends in Suicide Among Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Hispanic Individuals (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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613P Longitudinal Trends in Suicide Among Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Hispanic Individuals

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Luis Alvarez-Hernandez, MSW, LCSW, PhD Student, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Orion Mowbray, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Background and Purpose: Due to multiple minority stressors, persons who are Hispanic and lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB), can experience an increased risk of suicide. In the United States, the rates of suicide among Hispanic individuals have increased consistently over the past 20 years. Additionally, suicide occurs at a higher rate for LGB youth compared to heterosexual youth. Suicide among LGB Hispanic individuals is influenced by their experiences with mental health, substance use, and treatment. In this study, we examine suicide rates among LGB Hispanic individuals and its association with sociodemographics and clinical characteristics associated with mental health and substance use.

Methods: We examined longitudinal trends and correlates of deaths by suicide among LGB Hispanic individuals using data from the National Violent Death Reporting System from 2012-2016 (N=1,132). Bivariate analyses examined characteristics associated with the manner of death (suicide/non-suicide) from all years, inclusive. A multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression model examined longitudinal trends associated with suicide between LGB and heterosexual individuals, controlling for sociodemographics (i.e., sex, education, marital status, and age) and clinical characteristics (i.e., whether an individual experienced a current mental health problem, alcohol problems, non-alcohol related substance use problems, and history of treatment for mental illness).

Results: Increased odds associated with suicide were associated with women, individuals with a higher education level, those who experienced mental health problems, those with alcohol-related problems, and individuals with a history of mental illness. Compared to heterosexual individuals, LGB individuals showed higher odds of suicide (OR = 2.23, p < .05). There was a main effect of time, suggesting that odds of suicide have increased annually (OR = 1.19, p < .01) for all persons. The interaction of sexual identity and time was also significant (OR = 1.19, p < .01), suggesting that the odds of suicide has increased over time at a stronger rate for LGB individuals, compared to heterosexual individuals.

Conclusions and Implications: Mental health intervention and policy efforts should focus on the multiple minority stressors experienced by LGB Hispanic individuals. Change at the micro level includes designing mental health interventions that address the intersectional needs of this population. At the mezzo level, intervention efforts should address that LGB Hispanic individuals are not only the direct recipients of violence but are also exposed to the death of other LGB people in their families and communities. Finally, change at the macro level includes addressing the need for an increased focus on public health macro interventions that address the causes and various forms of violence present against LGB Hispanic populations in the United States. Future research should focus on better understanding the impact of hostile and violent environments on minority populations and what are the drivers for violence and suicide in the United States. It is vital to continue understating the mental health needs of LGB Hispanic individuals, as our study shows that suicide rates for this population continue to increase.