Martin Plöderl, Salzburg (Austria):

Sexuelle Orientierung: Psychische Gesundheit und Suizidalität
(Sexual Orientation, Emotional Health, and Suicidality)

This is the first in-depth pilot study ("Sexual Orientation, Psychological Heath, Suicidality, and associated Risk Factors") conducted in German-speaking countries that compares indicators of nonfatal suicidality (suicide ideation and attempts) and psychological health (level of depression and other symptoms) of gay, lesbian, bisexual (GLB), and heterosexual (HeS) adults. Further, several GLB-specific Risk Factors (RF), e.g. discrimination, openness and acceptance in the social network, internalized homophobia and general risk factors, e.g. hopelessness, self-esteem, substance abuse, social support and their association with suicidality and psychological health are analyzed. Results of N = 358 SLB-subjects which are compared to those of an age-, sex- and education-matched HeS sample reveal a heightend suicide attempt rate in GLB men (odds-ratio [OR] 7.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.1-23.5) and women (OR = 9.2, CI = 2.1 - 40.5). All other indicators of suicidality and psychological health of GLB-subjects are negatively increased. Most of the GLB-specific and general RF correlate significantly with suicidality and psychological health, but the effect sizes concerning GLBspecific RF are small. The minority-stress hypothesis which would predict increased general RF-values in the GLB group could just partially be confirmed, because only for some of the general RF statistically significant differences have been found, and those effect sizes were small. According to the vulnerability hypotheses we expected stronger associations of general RF with suicidality and psychological health within GLB compared to HeS subjects. No such evidence was found. Other theoretical models and problems concerning the risk-factor approach are discussed. .

About the Author:

Martin Plöderl, who is describing his nearly finished doctoral dissertation, has been an external lecturer (General Psychology and Social Psychology) since 2002, and since 2004 is an associate instructor at the Institute for Psychology, Department of Social Psychology, at Salzburg University. His research covers sexual orientation, gender role conformity and discrimination experience, suicidality and implicit attitudes as well as explicit and implicit homophobia.

Aside from his university activities he works as Counselor for the local gay organization, HOSI Salzburg, and conducts school projects on sexual orientation.

Mag. Martin Plöderl
Institut für Psychologie
Universität Salzburg
Tel: +0043 662 8044 515
e-Mail: Martin.Plöderl@sbg.ac.at
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