SEXUAL ORIENTATION CHANGE EFFORTS (SOCE) STRONGLY REDUCE SUICIDALITY: A COMMENTARY ON BLOSNICH ET AL., “SEXUAL ORIENTATION CHANGE EFFORTS, ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES, AND SUICIDE IDEATION AND ATTEMPT AMONG SEXUAL MINORITY ADULTS, UNITED STATES, 2016–20
Abstract Background: Blosnich and colleagues’ recent analysis of the Generations survey data, consisting of a population sample of 1518 sexual minority persons, improperly concluded that “sexual minorities who experienced SOCE reported a higher prevalence of suicidal ideation and attempts than did sexual minorities who did not experience SOCE.” The majority of their analytic category “experienced SOCE” erroneously consists of persons expressing suicidality prior to experiencing SOCE, most of whom did not express further suicidality following SOCE. Results: In logistic regression models that replicate those of Blosnich et al. with corrected data, suicide planning was reduced by half (AOR .45, 95% CI .27, .72) for SOCE participants. Estimated suicide ideation (AOR .62), intention (AOR .91) and attempts (AOR .68) were also reduced, but not significantly. Results were sharply partitioned by age at the time of SOCE, with all AORs above 1 for those who underwent SOCE as minors (under age 18) and below 1 for those participating in SOCE as adults (age 18 and older). Suicide attempts were five times less likely among adults who underwent SOCE (AOR .21, 95% CI .08, .57). For all respondents suicide attempts were only one-tenth to one-fifth as likely when SOCE followed an initial expression of suicide ideation (AOR .22, 95% CI .06, .82), planning (AOE .11, 95% CI .02, .50) or intent (AOR .09, 95% CI .02, .40). Conclusion: Restrictions on SOCE deprive sexual minorities of an important resource for reducing suicidality. The right of all adults to pursue therapy that affirms their persons, sexuality, identity and goals should be respected, whether they experience stability or dysphoria in their current sexual or gender identity.