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Perceived parental support as a protective factor against suicidal ideation of self-identified lesbian and gay Filipino adolescents.

Research shows that sexual minorities are at higher risk of experiencing mental health burdens as compared to heterosexuals (Hatzenbuehler, 2009). However, an individual's sexual orientation per se does not cause poor mental health problems, but rather, mental health problems are caused by minority stressors--or stressors experienced by minority groups living in heterosexist cultures (O'Donnell, Meyer, Schwartz, 2011).

The increasing incidence of suicide in the Philippines raises serious public health concerns. However, only a few studies have addressed suicide, and even fewer have addressed LG suicide. Manalastas (2013) found that young gay and bisexual Filipinos were more at risk for suicidal ideation than were their heterosexual peers.

Homosexuality is treated differently in different cultures; and although some cultures may be more accepting towards homosexuality, many still see it as unacceptable (Mireshgi & Matsumoto, 2008), and it is evident that many people in the Philippines refuse to accept LG persons as equals.

A high number of homosexuals also report having negative parental relationships, most especially after disclosure (Alanko, Santtila, Witting, Varjonen, Jern, Johansson, et al., 2009). Indeed, a large body of research attests to the impact of overall parental acceptance or rejection on the mental health functioning of adolescents. Because the parent's attitude greatly affects development, it is important that positive attitudes are portrayed by the parents.

Lack of parental acceptance and support are related to a wide range of psychological problems such as lack of self-esteem, depression, and suicidal behavior (Ackard, Sztainer, Story, & Perry, 2006; Dukes & Lorch, 1989; Maris, 1981; Sands & Dixon, 1986). Adolescents who perceive parental disapproval are more likely to develop views of themselves as bad, shameful, or unlovable (Rohner, 2004). Parental support is even more crucial for young LG people (Mayock, Bryan, Carr, & Kitching, 2009). Parental acceptance of LG adolescents is associated with positive young adult mental health while parental rejection is associated with poor mental health. Furthermore, a study by Ryan, Huebner, Diaz, and Sanchez (2009) found that parental acceptance predicts greater self-esteem, social support, and general health status, and that it also protects against depression, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation and behaviors among LG adolescents. Based on the extant literature we predicted that amount of parental support for LG teenagers would be significantly correlated with suicidal ideation.



We obtained a sample of 340 Filipino gay and lesbian adolescents (288 gays and 52 lesbians) ages 13--18, from selected public high schools in Manila, Quezon City and Tarlac.


Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire (SIQ). The Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire is a 15-item self-report measure developed specifically for young adolescents as an indicator of their current levels of suicidal ideation. The SIQ is scored from 0 to 6, with 6 indicating that the ideation occurs almost every day, and a score of 0 indicating that ideation never occurs. The test requires five to ten minutes to complete and can be administered individually or in small groups. Coefficient alpha of the SIQ (HS Form) is .94 (Reynolds, 1988).

Child Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire (PARQ). The Child Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire is a 60-item self-report questionnaire for young adolescents who are still under parental supervision. Items are scored from 1 to 4 with high scores indicating that the child perceives parents as highly rejecting. The PARQ has high internal reliability and has been found to be valid for cross-cultural research (Rohner, 2005).


Formal letters of request were sent to different public high schools in Manila, Quezon city and Tarlac City for approval of test administration. Once approved, students were first given a personal data sheet to determine the disclosed/self-identified Lesbians and Gays from those who are not. Informed consent was sought from the parents/guardians and selected respondents were administered the Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire and the Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire.


Our results show that paternal and maternal support are significantly related to suicidal ideation. Specifically, the correlation between PARQ scores and SIQ scores with the father as the target person was .27, p < .001. The correlation between PARQ scores and SIQ scores with the mother as the target person was .36, p < .001. Since .36 squared is .1296, we can say that it explains almost 13% of the variance.

A multiple regression analysis revealed that the combination of perceived parental support from both parents predicted suicidal ideation slightly better than support from the mother alone. The F value was 29.66, p<.001, R squared = .15, an improvement in predictive power of 2.04%. Thus, lower level of perceived parental support was associated with higher level of suicidal ideation. Approximately 15% of the variance in suicidal ideation can be associated with the perceived paternal and maternal support.


The findings of our research are congruent with the results of Lila, Garcia and Garcia (2007), which showed that "children's reported psychological adjustment is related to perceived paternal and maternal acceptance" (p.121). Furthermore, results of a study conducted by Ryan et al. (2010) showed that "family acceptance in adolescence is associated with young adult positive health outcomes" (p.210). Campos, Besser, and Blatt's (2012) study reported that parental rejection was seen as significantly associated with suicidality.

The findings indicate that the interactions between mothers and their children may have a stronger direct effect on adolescent suicidality than those between fathers and children. In the Philippine setting, the father is typically the head of the family. Fathers are generally the financial provider and the final decision maker in the family. Because of the existing gender role differentiation in the Philippines, according to the norms of the society, males should be tougher and thus must act as disciplinarians in the family. Consequently, fathers are often perceived to be more distant and thus are more feared by the children. Thereby, when a gay or lesbian adolescent is accepted by the father, this is considered as an exception rather than the norm. These notions are in line with the result of the present study that indicates that perceived maternal attitude was a slightly stronger predictor of suicidal ideation than paternal attitude. Furthermore, a study done in the Philippines by Manalastas and Mondragon (2006), states that a child's reports of life satisfaction closely matched that of the mother's reports. Further analysis revealed that a mother's report may predict the self-reported life satisfaction scores of the children but not the father's. We recommend the study of ways to educate the parents of lesbians and gays so that they might become more accepting of their childrens' sexual preference.

Manalastas found that there is an elevated suicide risk of gays and bisexuals as compared to their heterosexual peers. Aside from having to cope with the general stressors of life experienced by all Filipino youth, the members of the LG community "bear the double burden of being a minority in a heterosexist culture that places little value on their romantic relationships and identities" (Manalastas, 2013, p.10). It should be noted that the majority of gay and bisexual Filipino youth reported no serious suicide risk. About 84% of young Filipino men with same-sex attractions indicated that they had never considered committing suicide (Manalastas, 2013).

Another important direction for future research is the examination of other protective factors that may shield Filipino LG youth from the negative effects of stigma and discrimination. In recent years there has been an increasing amount of study about the suicidal tendencies of homosexuals and the protective factors involved (Heeringen & Vincke, 2000; Manalastas, 2013; O' Donnel, Meyer, & Schwartz, 2011; Silenzio, Pena, Duberstein, Cerel, & Knox, 2007). We encourage research on these protective variables, and the dissemination of the results to the general public.


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Silenzio, V., Pena, J., Duberstein, P., Cerel, J., & Knox, K. (2007). Sexual orientation and risk factors for suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among adolescents and young adults. American Journal of Public Health, 57(11), 2017-2019.

Marc Eric S. Reyes, Mase C. Victorino, Anna P. Chua, Francine Y. Oquendo, Arteliz S. Puti, & Alyssa A. Reglos

University of Santo Tomas

Lynn E. McCutcheon

Editor, NAJP

Author info: Correspondence should be sent to: Marc Eric S. Reyes, Department of Psychology, University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines. Email at
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Author:Reyes, Marc Eric S.; Victorino, Mase C.; Chua, Anna P.; Oquendo, Francine Y.; Puti, Arteliz S.; Regl
Publication:North American Journal of Psychology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Aug 1, 2015
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