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A National Study on Religiosity and Suicide Risk by Sexual Orientation

Published:October 18, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2022.08.020

      Introduction

      Although religiosity is known to predict lower suicide risk among the general population, it is unclear how different aspects of religiosity such as religious beliefs and attendance are associated with suicide risk among sexual minorities relative to heterosexual populations.

      Methods

      Analyzing nationally representative data from the 2016–2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2022 (N=163,995), this study conducted logistic regressions to link suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts with religious beliefs and attendance. Moderation analyses were used to assess how religiosity is differentially linked to suicide risk among heterosexual, gay/lesbian, and bisexual males and females.

      Results

      Although higher religiosity is consistently associated with lower suicide risk among heterosexual people, the effects of religiosity may be less beneficial or even harmful among sexual minorities. Specifically, religious attendance is associated with lower odds of suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts among heterosexual people, but it is also related to higher odds among gay/lesbian and bisexual people. In addition, religious beliefs are associated with lower odds of suicidal plans and attempts among heterosexual people, but this association is significantly weaker for bisexual people. These findings are more pronounced among gay males and bisexual females.

      Conclusions

      Using population-based data, this study shows that the relationships between religiosity and suicide risk vary by sexual orientation and gender and that religious beliefs and religious attendance are differentially associated with suicide risk among sexual minorities. Future research should continue to explore how various aspects of religious participation may influence the mental health of diverse sexual minority communities.
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