Examining the development of sense of coherence in LGB college students population and its relationship with protecting against distress and suicidality
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In 1946 the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that in order to promote overall health in a given population, it is necessary to identify factors that contribute to health and well-being, and not to solely focus on methods to reduce vulnerability to distress. Over 50 years later the WHO (2006) identified the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) community as a specific sub-population that requires particular investment in finding ways to reduce their observed higher rates of distress and suicidality. During this same half-century, U.S. colleges and universities transitioned from being fundamentally mono-cultural student bodies to becoming more multicultural in nature. In essence, each college’s student body is now a population of populations. One prominent population among the larger student body is the LGBTQ college student community. Furthermore, the LGB portion of this college sub-population has been identified as an under-researched subset of the larger LGBTQ population (Russell et al., 2011). This is because past research has been limited by drawing primarily upon non-college adolescent LGBTQ samples and has over generalized its findings by the inclusion of the Transgender and Questioning populations, which have been observed to report even higher rates of distress and suicidality than the LGB community (Clements-Nolle et al. 2006; Goldblum et al. 2012). This study is designed to refine our understanding of the LGB college sub-population by first examining if trends of increased acquired vulnerability for distress and suicidality found in studies of the adolescent LGBTQ population (Garofalo, Wolf, Kessel, Palfrey, & DuRant, 1998; Russell & Toomey, 2010; Haas et al., 2011; King et al., 2008) also exist in the LGB college sub-population. Second, in line with the World Health Organization’s goal of identifying protective qualities capable of enhancing and preserving one’s state of well-being and resilience, this study will be the first to examine if Sense of Coherence (SOC) serves as a moderating factor on LGB college students’ vulnerability to distress and suicidality, and thereby, contributes to overall well-being and health. Through this study, we hope to achieve a better understanding of LGB students’ vulnerability to distress and suicidality during the college years, as well as to examine the applicability of the SOC construct for health promoting interventions in the college population.