Sexual Minority Stress and Suicide Risk: Identifying Resilience Through Personality Profile Analysis

Nicholas A. Livingston, Annesa Flentje, Nicholas C. Heck, Hillary Gleason, Kathryn M. Oost, Bryan N. Cochran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Sexual minority-based victimization, which includes threats or enacted interpersonal violence, predicts elevated suicide risk among sexual minority individuals. However, research on personality factors that contribute to resilience among sexual minority populations is lacking. Using the Five-Factor Model, we hypothesized that individuals classified as adaptive (vs. at-risk) would be at decreased risk for a suicide attempt in the context of reported lifetime victimization. Sexual minority-identified young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 years (N 412) were recruited nationally and asked to complete an online survey containing measures of personality, sexual minority stress, and lifetime suicide attempts. A 2-stage cluster analytic method was used to empirically derive latent personality profiles and to classify respondents as adaptive (lower neuroticism and higher extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness) or at-risk (higher neuroticism, lower extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness) on the basis of their Five-Factor Personality trait scores. Adaptive individuals were slightly older and less likely to conceal their sexual orientation, but they reported similar rates of victimization, discrimination, and internalized heterosexism as their at-risk counterparts. Logistic regression results indicate that despite reporting similar rates of victimization, which was a significant predictor of lifetime suicide attempt, adaptive individuals evidenced decreased risk for attempted suicide in the context of victimization relative to at-risk individuals. These findings suggest that an adaptive personality profile may confer resilience in the face of sexual minority-based victimization. This study adds to our knowledge of sexual minority mental health and highlights new directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-328
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015


  • Five-Factor Model
  • LGB
  • Personality
  • Sexual minority
  • Suicide


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