Screen Readers Skip to Content

Seeking Help from Religious Counselors Associated with Increased Suicide Risk Among LGBT

Author: The Williams Institute
Published: 16th Nov 2014
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: LGBT Counseling - Therapy Publications

Summary: Black LGBs much more than White or Latino LGBs sought treatment in religious or spiritual settings prior to a suicide attempt.


Main Document

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.

"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," said Dr. Meyer.

The study also finds:

The data analyzed in the current 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 study was conducted in New York City in 2004 - 05 with support of the National Institute of Mental Health (grant # R01MH066058 to Ilan H. Meyer, Ph.D.).

Post to Twitter Add to Facebook

Latest LGBT Counseling - Therapy Publications

The above information is from our reference library of resources relating to LGBT Counseling - Therapy that includes:

LGB People Who Have Undergone Conversion Therapy Almost Twice As Likely to Attempt Suicide thumbnail image.
Report finds non-transgender LGB people who experienced conversion therapy almost twice as likely to think about suicide and attempt suicide compared to their peers who hadn't experienced conversion therapy.
Publish Date: 17th Jun 2020
Talk Therapy Reduces Suicide Risk thumbnail image.
Repeat suicide attempts and deaths by suicide roughly 25% lower among people who underwent psychosocial counseling after suicide attempt.
Publish Date: 23rd Nov 2014
Seeking Help from Religious Counselors Associated with Increased Suicide Risk Among LGBT thumbnail image.
Black LGBs much more than White or Latino LGBs sought treatment in religious or spiritual settings prior to a suicide attempt.
Publish Date: 16th Nov 2014
Help for Sexual Issues and Relationships in Texas thumbnail image.
Vantage Point Counseling Services provides individual, group, and couples therapy to people struggling with chemical dependency and sexual addictions, as well as LGBT specific issues.
Publish Date: 21st Oct 2014 - Updated: 12th Feb 2015


1How Many Genders Are There?
Alphabetical list of gender identities.

2Transgender Reporting Guide
How to write about transgender people.

3Glossary of Sexuality Terms
Definitions of sexual terms & acronyms.

4Glossary of Sexual Identities
Definitions of gender related terms.

5Am I Gay? Questions to Ask
Think you may be gay or bisexual?

• Submissions: Send us your coming events and LGBTQ related news stories.


• Report Errors: Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.



• (APA): The Williams Institute. (2014, November 16). Seeking Help from Religious Counselors Associated with Increased Suicide Risk Among LGBT. SexualDiversity.org. Retrieved May 27, 2024 from www.sexualdiversity.org/sexuality/therapy/191.php


• Permalink: <a href="https://www.sexualdiversity.org/sexuality/therapy/191.php">Seeking Help from Religious Counselors Associated with Increased Suicide Risk Among LGBT</a>