Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of chiadpsymehBioMed CentralBiomed Central Web Sitesearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleChild and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental HealthJournal Front Page
Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2015; 9: 16.
Published online 2015 July 8. doi:  10.1186/s13034-015-0050-y
PMCID: PMC4495628

Nonsuicidal self-injury in sexual minority college students: a test of theoretical integration



Individuals identifying as a sexual minority report engaging in nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) at substantially higher rates compared to their heterosexual peers. Given that NSSI is a known risk factor for suicide, it is important to understand the processes unique to being a sexual minority that increases risk for NSSI so that adequate prevention efforts can be established. The current study integrated Minority Stress Theory and the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide to test a model of NSSI and suicide risk.


A total of 137 college students who identified as a sexual minority completed an anonymous on-line study assessing NSSI, suicidal thoughts/behaviors, and constructs of the minority stress and interpersonal theories. Two linear regressions using bootstrapping analyses were conducted to test our hypotheses.


Minority stress was directly associated with NSSI and via perceived burdensomeness, explaining 27 % of the variance. NSSI was associated with increased risk for suicide thoughts/behaviors directly, and through acquired capability, explaining 45 % of the variance.


These findings provide evidence that unique stressors individuals face as a result of their sexual minority status increases risk for self-harm by influencing cognitive and emotional processes such as burdensomeness and acquired capability. Implications for prevention, intervention, and future research are briefly discussed.

Keywords: Sexual minority, Youth, NSSI, Suicide, Self-injury, Self-harm, College, Minority stress, Burdensomeness

Articles from Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central