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Faith is dangerously linked to suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ youth

Faith is dangerously linked to suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ youth

A girl praying

A recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows a link between religious faith and suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ youth.

Published earlier this year, the study reveals that religion helps protect most people from thoughts of suicide. However, for those aged 18-30 who identify as LGBTQ, it does the opposite.

John R. Blosnich,  of West Virginia University’s Injury Control Research Center, and his co-authors, used date from the University of Texas at Austin. That school’s Research Consortium studies the mental health of college students.

Its latest information surveyed 21,247 students.

Of these students, 2.3% identified as gay or lesbian, 3.3% identified as bisexual, 1.1% responded they were questioning. 0.2% identified as trans, but this was too small of a sample size.

A worrying connection

In general, the study showed higher rates of suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ youth versus their heterosexual peers. This is uniform across most studies.

However, for the heterosexual students, religious importance in their lives decreased suicide attempts by 17%.

The numbers change significantly for LGBTQ youth.

For lesbian and gay students who cite religion as being important, they were 38% more like to have suicidal thoughts than lesbian and gay student who said religion wasn’t important. Indeed, for lesbians alone, authors linked religion and faith to a 52% increase in suicidal ideation.

Bisexuals didn’t show much of a link, but students who were questioning did at truly alarming rates.

For those questioning students who said religion was important, they attempted suicide recently at three times the rate of questioning students who said religion wasn’t important.

A need for change

The authors’ data comes from 2011. Blosnich said changes in society and the country may produce different results today. However, many surveys don’t include data of both sexuality and religion, which is why they used this survey.

Regardless, there is clearly a need to do more work addressing this epidemic.

Another recent study revealed that calling queer youth by their preferred name reduced suicidal thoughts.

It’s a matter of respect, compassion, and safe communities.