LGBTQ+ and Suicide

Do LGBTQ+ people have a higher than average suicide rate?

Yes, probably. Because the Center for Disease Control and Prevention does not track the sexual orientation of suicide victims, completed suicide rates are difficult to determine.[1]

However, LGBTQ+ individuals[2] show higher rates of behaviors associated with suicide—such as attempting suicide and suicide ideation.

What are the reasons for this?

There are probably many reasons. Much of all research on LGBT suicide focuses on negative environmental factors, such as social stigma, familial rejection, and discrimination as contributing to a higher risk of suicide.[3] However, sexual minorities are also more likely to experience suicide risk factors such as drug abuse,[4] STDs,[5] severe mental illness,[6] and homelessness.[7]

LGBQ Suicidality in Utah Students

28% of LGBQ Latter-day Saints considered suicide compared with 49% of LGBQ students that identified their religion as "None". Student data (grades 6, 8, 10, 12) from 86,346 Utah students, 4.7% of which identified as LGBQ. [8]

Does the Church contribute to a higher suicide rate in LGBTQ+ people?

Possibly. The data is mixed on this.

Studies using government and general population surveys suggest that sexual minorities who are Latter-day Saints in Utah report better mental health and significantly lower suicidality than non-Latter-day Saints.[9]

Other studies using online surveys[10] suggest that Latter-day Saint sexual minorities report worse mental health than their non-Latter-day Saint counterparts.[11]

Still other studies show no difference in mental health or suicidality.[12]

Does Utah have a higher suicide rate for LGBTQ+ people than other states?

It's unknown. There isn't a study comparing LGBTQ+ suicide rates in Utah versus other states.

Does discussing Latter-day Saint/LGBTQ+ suicide help prevent suicides?

Possibly, though public discussion of suicide can have negative impacts.[13] Creating awareness of risk factors related to suicide is important for prevention and mitigation.[14] But it can also result in increased suicide ideation and behavior.[15]

Deaths by suicide are most often informed by multiple overlapping causes, so framing suicide as a reaction to a single factor can be harmful.[16]

Some People Say . . .

"The Church loves the gay people just as much as they love normal people."

— overheard in Sunday School

The Facts

  • There are no national statistics available for LGBTQ+ suicide.

  • There is no data on LGBTQ+ suicide rates in Utah versus other states.

  • Data based on the 2019 Student Health and Risk Prevention Statewide Survey indicates that LDS students that are also LGBQ have almost half the rate of suicide ideation as non-LDS LGBQ students.

  • The CDC found that suicidal ideation for LGB youth is significantly higher than non-LGB youth.

  • Sexual minorities (LGBTQ+) are more likely to experience higher suicide risk factors such as drug abuse, homelessness, STDs, and severe mental illness.

  • Studies based on national data indicate sexual minorities in Utah that are practicing Latter-day Saint have higher levels of mental health and lower suicidality.

  • Internet-based surveys indicate that sexual minorities that are practicing Latter-day Saint have lower levels of mental health.

Our Take

Suicide and suicidal ideation are very real challenges that affect many people. Those who are affected need love, empathy, community, and support.

There is love and support to be found in the Church, but there are also homophobic members of the Church that can hurt those around them who identify with LGBTQ+ groups. The Church has been making efforts to educate members on how to be supportive and show love—and discourages being hateful.

The studies seem mixed on whether Church involvement affects suicidality. General population data indicates that Latter-day Saints who are sexual minorities show better mental health, but some online studies show the opposite. Still other studies show no difference.

The Utah Statewide Survey in 2019 indicated that LDS students that are also LGBQ have almost half the rate of suicide ideation as non-LDS LGBQ students.

Deaths by suicide are most often informed by multiple overlapping causes, so framing suicide as a reaction to a single factor can be harmful. As we strive to make church and the gospel accommodating and warm for all of God’s children, we don't want to reduce or minimize the lived experience of LGBTQ+ members, including being reductive in how we talk about the intersection of mental health, orientation, and faith.

God continues to love all His children. As members, we covenant to support those who mourn, including those who suffer from feelings of not belonging, depression, and suicidal ideation.

If you, or someone you know, is contemplating suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

What's Your Take?

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These takes are curated for a general audience and may contain minor edits when posted.
  • C Anders
    The Church unfortunately has a very poor record concerning the LGBTQ Community . . . The Church needs to finally comes to terms with this community. Not just loving them, but accepting them.
  • Jacqueline MG
    I want any LGBTQIA+ people who read this comment to know that I love you and want you to feel safe and welcome with me. I don't understand all of how God's plan works, but I want to worship and learn with you. Zion takes everyone!
  • Emily G
    This makes me really sad. I don't understand a lot of things, but I want the gospel to be a welcoming place for all of God's children. I don't know how to make it better besides loving people and trying to be there.
Footnotes