Gays who were counseled from a religious leader were more likely to attempt suicide than those who sought no treatment at all, a new study has revealed.
The Williams Institute has found LGB people who received therapy from a medical professional were no less likely to attempt suicide than those who did not seek help, but assistance from faith-based counselors were associated with a higher suicide risk.
‘The findings are troubling because seeking treatment is a recommended suicide prevention strategy and this study results show no more positive effect for people who sought treatment,’ said co-author Ilan Meyer, a senior scholar of public policy at the institute.
‘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.’
He added: ‘More studies are needed to assess the efficacy of treatment for LGB people with suicidal ideation in preventing future suicide attempts.
‘But, even without further study, public health officials and health service providers ought to ensure that LGB individuals who seek mental health treatment, whether it is in medical or religious settings, receive competent mental health services that is relevant to their needs.’
The data analyzed in the study were obtained as part of Project Stride, a large epidemiological study that investigated the relationships among stress, identity, and mental health in diverse LGB and heterosexual populations.
The full study, ‘The Role of Help-Seeking in Preventing Suicide Attempts Among Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals’ is available here.