Sexual orientation and the integrated motivational-volitional model of suicidal behavior: results from a cross-sectional study of young adults in the United Kingdom

Susan Rasmussen, Robert J. Cramer , Claire McFadden, Caitlin R. Haile, Victoria L. Sime, Corrine N. Wilsey

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Sexual orientation minority (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and other; LGBQ+) persons represent a vulnerable population with respect to suicide-related behavior. An emerging theory of suicide, the Integrated Motivational-Volitional Model of Suicide (IMV; O’Connor, 2011; O’Connor & Kirtley, 2018), is utilized in the present study to examine sexual orientation, as well as a number of other IMV-defined pre-motivational factors (i.e., demographics, psychological distress and personality), as they impact the IMV motivational factors of defeat, entrapment, and suicidal ideation/intent. The present investigation featured a cross-sectional online survey of young adults (ages 18 to 34; n = 418; 27% identified as LGBTQ+) across the United Kingdom. The key findings included: (1) high rates of 12-month suicidal ideation prevalence (54.5%) and willingness to enact a future suicide attempt (60.8%); (2) bisexual and other (e.g., pansexual)-identifying sexual minority persons reported higher levels of IMV-related outcomes (e.g., internal entrapment, defeat); (3) sexual orientation accounted for significant variance in predicting motivational constructs controlling for a number of other pre-motivational factors; (4) other sexual minority status, compared to heterosexual identity, predicted all motivational outcomes, and; (5) extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability emerged as pre-motivational protective factors for varying motivational outcomes. Findings are discussed with respect to the suicide and sexual minority theories, as well as tailored suicide prevention efforts and future research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Suicide Research
Early online date26 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Nov 2019


  • sexual orientation
  • suicidal behaviour
  • motivational-volitional model

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