Background: Sexual minority men report high rates of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and adulthood suicidality. However, mechanisms (e.g., PTSD symptoms) through which CSA might drive suicidality remain unknown. Objective: In a prospective cohort of sexual minority men, we examined: (1) associations between CSA and suicidal thoughts and behaviors; (2) prospective associations between CSA-related PTSD symptoms and suicidal ideation; and (3) interpersonal moderators of these associations. Participants and setting: Participants included 6305 sexual minority men (Mage = 33.2, SD = 11.5; 82.0% gay; 53.5% White) who completed baseline and one-year follow-up at-home online surveys. Methods: Bivariate analyses were used to assess baseline demographic and suicidality differences between CSA-exposed participants and non-CSA-exposed participants. Among CSA-exposed participants, multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to regress passive and active suicidal ideation at one-year follow-up on CSA-related PTSD symptoms at baseline. Interactions were examined between CSA-related PTSD symptoms and interpersonal difficulties. Results: CSA-exposed sexual minority men reported two-and-a-half times the odds of suicide attempt history compared to non-CSA-exposed men (95% CI = 2.15–2.88; p < 0.001). Among CSA-exposed sexual minority men, CSA-related PTSD symptoms were prospectively associated with passive suicidal ideation (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.38; 95% CI = 1.19; 1.61). Regardless of CSA-related PTSD symptom severity, those with lower social support and greater loneliness were at elevated risk of active suicidal ideation at one-year follow-up. Conclusions: CSA-related PTSD symptom severity represents a psychological mechanism contributing to CSA-exposed sexual minority men's elevated suicide risk, particularly among those who lack social support and report loneliness.
- Childhood sexual abuse
- Sexual minority men
- Social support
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health