Predicting self-harm in an ethnically diverse sample of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the United Kingdom

Zaqia Rehman, Barbara Lopes, Rusi Jaspal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Poor mental health is prevalent in lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people due in part to social stigma. The social, psychological and clinical risk factors for self-harm among LGB people are unclear, which limits our ability to predict when and how this will occur and, crucially, how to prevent it.

Drawing on the cognitive-behavioral approach in clinical psychology, this study identifies the predictors of self-harm in LGB people in the United Kingdom.

Women, lesbians, those with lower income and younger people were more likely to engage in self-harm. Self-harmers exhibited much more discrimination, LGB victimization and, thus, internalized homophobia and depressive symptomatology than non-self-harmers. The structural equation model showed direct effects of age and gender, and indirect effects of income and sexual orientation, on self-harm, through the mediating variables of discrimination, LGB victimization and internalized homophobia.

Consistent with the cognitive-behavioral model, the results indicate that exposure to situational stressors can increase the risk of developing a self-hatred and depressive psychological self-schema, resulting in greater risk of self-harm as a maladaptive coping strategy. An integrative clinical intervention for enhancing psychological wellbeing in LGB people is proposed to mitigate the risk of self-harm in this population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-360
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020


  • Self-harm
  • discrimination
  • victimization
  • internalized homophobia
  • lesbian
  • gay
  • bisexual


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