Systemic White Supremacy: U.S. State Policy, Policing, Discrimination, and Suicidality Across Race and Sexual Identity

Devin English, Linda A. Oshin, Felix Gabriel Lopez, Justin C. Smith, Danielle R. Busby, Michael D. Anestis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although suicide rates are stable or decreasing among White communities, rates are increasing among Black communities, a trend that appears to be disproportionately affecting Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) people. To understand the structural drivers and mechanisms of these trends, we examined associations between U.S. state-level racist and heterosexist criminal legal policies and policing, discrimination, and suicidality among White and Black, heterosexual and LGBQ, communities. We recruited 5,064 participants in 2021 using online census-driven quota sampling. Structural equation modeling estimated associations from objective indicators of racist and heterosexist criminal legal policies to self-reported police stops, discrimination, and suicidal ideation and behavior. For White heterosexual participants, racist (β = −.22, SE = 0.03, p,.001) and heterosexist (β = −.26, SE = 0.03, p,.001) policies were negatively associated with police stops. For White LGBQ participants, racist and heterosexist policies were not significantly associated with police stops. For Black heterosexual participants, racist (β =.30, SE = 0.11, p =.005), but not heterosexist, policies were positively associated with police stops. For Black LGBQ participants, racist (β =.57, SE = 0.08, p,.001) and heterosexist (β =.65, SE = 0.09, p,.001) policies were positively associated with police stops which, in turn, were positively associated with discrimination and suicidal ideation and behavior. Results provide evidence that racist and heterosexist state policies are linked to policing and interpersonal drivers of suicide inequities and suggest that repealing/preventing oppressive policies should be a suicide prevention imperative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-332
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science
Volume133
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 25 2024

Keywords

  • LGBTQ communities
  • police discrimination
  • racial health disparities
  • suicidal ideation
  • suicide attempt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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