Link between Suicide in LGB Youth and Religious Teaching

Link between Suicide in LGB Youth and Religious Teaching April 24, 2018

In a paper from last month, “Association of Religiosity With Sexual Minority Suicide Ideation and Attempt”,  a significant link between anti-LGBT religious teaching and suicide in LGB youth whose religion is important to them was found.  This was published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Details can be found below:


The purpose of this study is to explore how the associations between importance of religion and recent suicide ideation, recent suicide attempt, and lifetime suicide attempt vary by sexual orientation.


Survey data were collected from the 2011 University of Texas at Austin’s Research Consortium data from 21,247 college-enrolled young adults aged 18–30 years. Respondents reported sexual identity as heterosexual, gay/lesbian, bisexual, or questioning. Two sets of multivariable models were conducted to explore the relations of religious importance and sexual orientation with the prevalence of suicidal behavior. The first model was stratified by sexual orientation and the second model was stratified by importance of religion. To explore potential gender differences in self-directed violence, the models were also stratified by gender identity. The main outcome measures were recent suicidal ideation, recent suicide attempt, and lifetime suicide attempt.


Overall, increased importance of religion was associated with higher odds of recent suicide ideation for both gay/lesbian and questioning students. The association between sexual orientation and self-directed violence were mixed and varied by strata. Lesbian/gay students who viewed religion as very important had greater odds for recent suicidal ideation and lifetime suicide attempt compared with heterosexual individuals. Bisexual and questioning sexual orientations were significantly associated with recent suicide ideation, recent attempt, and lifetime attempt across all strata of religious importance, but the strongest effects were among those who reported that religion was very important.


Religion-based services for mental health and suicide prevention may not benefit gay/lesbian, bisexual, or questioning individuals. Religion-based service providers should actively assure their services are open and supportive of gay/lesbian, bisexual, or questioning individuals.


Pink News reports:

One of the study’s co-authors John R. Blosnich told HuffPost that anti-LGBT religious groups could be highly damaging.

He said: “Religious groups who stigmatize LGBT people should be aware of the potential damage they can do to an individual and families, and honestly the damage they do to themselves as an organization.”

The study used data compiled by the University of Texas and surveyed over 21,000 university students.

Traditionally, a strong attachment to a religion is seen to decrease the risk of suicide in the general population, however this study finds that the opposite is true for LGB youth….

The study found that lesbian and gay youths whose religion was very important to them had a higher risk of feeling suicidal. There was also a higher risk for a suicide attempt.

Students were asked about whether they had considered or attempted suicide, and whether they had recently experienced suicidal thoughts.

This was then compared with how important the students thought their religious beliefs were to their identities.

The study found similar figures to other research on the suicide risk of LGB youth….

This study echoes previous research into the subject. A 2017 report by The Oasis Foundation linked church teachings on same-sex relationships to mental health issues affecting LGB people.

This report alleged that homophobia from Church leaders make LGB people more likely to self-harm and even contemplate suicide.

A 2014 American study found that bisexual and lesbian girls were approximately half as likely to have been treated by a medical professional as a result of a suicide attempt.

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