Predicting suicidal behavior among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth receiving psychiatric emergency services

Johnny Berona*, Adam G. Horwitz, Ewa K. Czyz, Cheryl A. King

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are at elevated risk for self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs). However, few studies have comprehensively examined SITBs and their longitudinal course in LGBT youth at high risk for suicide. The aims of the present study were to characterize histories of SITBs among high-risk LGBT youth and to examine prospective associations with suicidal behavior. Participants were 285 youth (41.8% LGBT) ages 13–25 years receiving psychiatric emergency department (ED) services. Post-discharge suicidal behavior was assessed via 4-month phone interviews and 12 month chart reviews. The sample was 42.1% male, 57.9% female, 2.5% gender minority, 41.8% sexual minority. LGBT participants were more likely to have prior psychiatric ED visits and hospitalizations, more frequent past week suicide ideation, and more severe nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI). We conducted stratified survival analyses to identify predictors of time to suicidal behavior post discharge. The final model for LGBT youth included past week suicide ideation and past month NSSI episodes. Among non-LGBT youth, the final model included number of lifetime NSSI methods and use of a highly lethal suicide attempt method. Within this sample of youth receiving psychiatric emergency services, LGBT youth were overrepresented and had more severe histories of SITBs. Results suggest the importance of assessing both lifetime and recent factors (i.e., past week and month), particularly for LGBT youth. Future research should replicate these findings in larger samples to explore whether there are unique risk factors that can aid in predicting and preventing suicide among LGBT youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-69
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Mar 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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