Saturday, August 16, 2014

Study Finds That for LGBTI Folks, Seeking Help from Religious and Spiritual Sources Associated with Higher Odds of Suicide Attempt

Remember that new Gallup survey to which I pointed several days ago, which finds that LGBT Americans are significantly less religious (as in, affiliated with religious groups and attending their worship services) than the rest of the population? Well, now there's also this to add to the discussion: as this Williams Institute media release from the end of June states, 

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 is entitled, "The Role of Help-Seeking in Preventing Suicide Attempts among Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals," and was 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. It was published in The Journal of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior in May. A précis is here.

The unavoidable question to be asked as one lines up the data amassed by the various surveys to which I've pointed above (and there are more) is this: do LGBTI people often run away from organized religion because they sense, or have found, that religious groups can be dangerous for them? I suspect that more than one gay person would answer that question with a resounding affirmative. (In the Catholic context: see, Colin Collette; and see, Tippi McCullough and Nicholas Coppola, Mike Moroski, Carla Hale, Lennon Cihak, Trish Cameron, Al Fischer, Steav Bates-Congdon, Barbara Johnson, Carol Parker, Josie Martin, Colleen Simon, and on and on).

And I would want to add that divorcing oneself from religion is not precisely the same thing as divorcing oneself from spirituality — and it's entirely possible that some of the most spiritual people around are people who have given up on organized religion in order to pursue meaningful spiritual lives. Because they have concluded that they have to take that step, given what religious bodies offer them . . . .

(I'm grateful to Dan Savage's SLOG site today for the link to the Williams Institute report.)

The pencil drawing of a crying eye is by muffintop04 at deviantART.

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