The fluidity of same-sex experience (SSE) can be conceptualized as both a risk and a resource that impacts suicidal ideation over time. Considering whether SSE occurs in adolescence, adulthood, or both, this study suggests that SSE in both adolescence and adulthood is associated with depression and low self-esteem throughout the life course, resulting in chronic susceptibility to suicidal ideation. Yet due to variation in both accumulation of risk and resources over time, trajectories of suicidal ideation during the transition to adulthood likely vary by timing of SSE. To test these hypotheses, we fit latent growth curve models to a gender-stratified sample taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (7608 men, 8070 women). We created four groups of SSE: no SSE (6322 men, 5981 women), SSE in adolescence only (634 men, 480 women), SSE in adulthood only (372 men, 1081 women), and SSE in adolescence and adulthood (280 men, 528 women). Men and women with SSE in both life stages had the greatest risk of suicidal ideation in adolescence and in adulthood. Yet women with first SSE in adulthood had less of a decline in suicidal ideation over time, relative to those with no SSE and those with SSE in adolescence only, and this was partially due to higher depression and lower self-esteem. Results suggest greater support is needed for adolescents expressing non-normative sexualities and for those with first SSE in adulthood, a group that is more difficult to identify in schools.
- Sexual orientation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)