Study: LGBT people who go to religious counseling more likely to commit suicide.

Study: LGBT people who go to religious counseling more likely to commit suicide. August 19, 2014

Going to a counselor or a therapist is something a person does for the same reason they go to the doctor: your quality of life is supposed to improve.  However, a new study out of UCLA has found that when LGBT people seek therapy from a religious counselor, their odds of committing suicide actually go up, not down:

A new study finds that lesbians, gay men and bisexuals (LGB) who sought mental health treatment from health care providers were no less likely to attempt suicide than LGB people who did not seek any treatment at all, but seeking help from religious or spiritual sources was associated with higher odds of a suicide attempt. The study, entitled, “The Role of Help-Seeking in Preventing Suicide Attempts among Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals,” is co-authored by Ilan H. Meyer, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, Merilee Teylan, Medical School, Harvard University, and Sharon Schwartz, Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University.

The study is the first to examine whether seeking various forms of mental health treatment is associated with lower odds of a suicide attempt in a diverse group of LGB adults. It finds that only about 16 percent of LGB people who made a serious suicide attempt sought mental health treatment from a health professional prior to the attempt; about 13 percent sought religious or spiritual treatment prior to the attempt.

The study finds that seeking treatment from a mental health or medical provider did not reduce the odds of a suicide attempt. Respondents who sought mental health or medical treatment at some time prior to their suicide attempt (or, among those who did not attempt suicide, prior to the age when suicide might have been attempted) were as likely as respondents who did not seek any mental health treatment to have a suicide attempt or serious suicide attempt after this time. However, counseling from a religious or spiritual advisor was associated with worse outcomes. Compared with individuals who did not seek help at all, those who sought help from a religious or spiritual advisor were more likely later to attempt suicide.

“The findings are troubling because seeking treatment is a recommended suicide prevention strategy and this study’s results show no more positive effect for people who sought treatment. More troubling is the finding that individuals who sought religious or spiritual treatment had higher odds of later attempting suicide than those who did not seek treatment at all,” said co-author Ilan H. Meyer, Ph.D., Williams Senior Scholar of Public Policy.

Well there’s a big surprise.

Pinged Jeremiah Beene (expert on psychology of mass murder at Ole Miss) about the study and he said “…this is part of a big NIMH grant study, as well, so the methodology is sound.”  

While the psychological community, made of experts with years upon years of study and experiment, focuses on helping LGBT people come to grips with their sexual orientation in a world that arbitrarily despises them, religious counselors (who are not trained therapists) often focus on heaping as much shame on the LGBT person as possible in an interest to get them to change.

And even presented with this information, I can’t see any religious “counselors” changing.  Even if confronted with the fact that what they’re doing increases the risk of suicide in the people they’re supposed to be helping, I’m sure it’s a price these preachers are willing to pay…or, more like a price he’s willing the LGBT people in his care to pay.

h/t to Ed Brayton

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