Category: Gay / Lesbian / Bisexual / Transgender Issues

Symposium

Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Bisexual Adults: Examination of Unique Risk

Saturday, November 18
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Aqua Salon C & D, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: L / G / B / T | Self-Injury | Risk / Vulnerability Factors
Presentation Type: Symposium

LGBTQ people are significantly more likely than the general population to engage in nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), and research suggests that NSSI rates may be particularly elevated in bisexual people. This risk for NSSI remains inadequately understood, with most research limited to younger populations.


The current study examined NSSI and risk factors within 289 sexual minority adults (ages 18-64, M=28). Of the 289 participants, 151 participants identified their sexual orientation as bisexual (34 male, 115 female, 2 other), and 87 identified as gay (41 male, 43 female, 3 other). Participants completed self-report measures of NSSI, minority stress (internalized stigma and experienced discrimination), and potential mental health risk factors for NSSI (e.g., depression and rumination). Using Chi-squared tests, t-tests, and Poisson regression, we examined differences between bisexual and gay adults.


Bisexual adults were significantly more likely than gay adults to report NSSI in their lifetime and in the past year. Bisexual adults showed significantly younger age of onset of NSSI, higher rumination, and lower experienced discrimination. When controlling for age and race, bisexual adults had significantly greater amounts of lifetime NSSI behaviors than gay adults, even when examining only severe forms of NSSI. This relationship held for both men and women. When examining NSSI in bisexual adults, higher levels of discrimination and internalized stigma significantly predicted lifetime NSSI behaviors, and depression and rumination partially mediated these relationships.


These findings suggest that bisexual individuals are more likely than gay individuals to self-injure earlier in their lives, to self-injure into adulthood, and to engage in more severe NSSI. Clinicians should be attentive to NSSI in bisexual clients of all ages and genders. While greater minority stress predicted NSSI, and mental health issues mediated these relationships in bisexual adults, similar relationships were found when examining NSSI in gay adults. Therefore more research is needed to explain the unique risk for NSSI in bisexual adults. 

Kara B. Fehling

Graduate Student
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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