Association of religiosity with sexual minority suicide ideation and attempt


Megan C. Lytle
John R. Blosnich
Susan M. De Luca
Chris Brownson


Introduction: The purpose of this study is to explore how the associations between importance of religion and recent suicide ideation, recent suicide attempt, and lifetime suicide attempt vary by sexual orientation.

Methods: Survey data were collected from the 2011 University of Texas at Austin’s Research Consortium data from 21,247 college-enrolled young adults aged 18-30 years. Respondents reported sexual identity as heterosexual, gay/lesbian, bisexual, or questioning. Two sets of multivariable models were conducted to explore the relations of religious importance and sexual orientation with the prevalence of suicidal behavior. The first model was stratified by sexual orientation and the second model was stratified by importance of religion. To explore potential gender differences in self-directed violence, the models were also stratified by gender identity. The main outcome measures were recent suicidal ideation, recent suicide attempt, and lifetime suicide attempt.

Results: Overall, increased importance of religion was associated with higher odds of recent suicide ideation for both gay/lesbian and questioning students. The association between sexual orientation and self-directed violence were mixed and varied by strata. Lesbian/gay students who viewed religion as very important had greater odds for recent suicidal ideation and lifetime suicide attempt compared with heterosexual individuals. Bisexual and questioning sexual orientations were significantly associated with recent suicide ideation, recent attempt, and lifetime attempt across all strata of religious importance, but the strongest effects were among those who reported that religion was very important.

Conclusions: Religion-based services for mental health and suicide prevention may not benefit gay/lesbian, bisexual, or questioning individuals. Religion-based service providers should actively assure their services are open and supportive of gay/lesbian, bisexual, or questioning individuals.