LOS ANGELES - LGBT organizations are citing a new study purporting 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. However, according to the study, those who sought help from religious or spiritual sources had "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, UCLA School of Law, Merilee Teylan, Harvard University, and Sharon Schwartz, Columbia University.
The study finds that seeking treatment from a mental health or medical provider did not reduce the odds of a suicide attempt by LGB people. Respondents who sought mental health or medical treatment at some time prior to their suicide attempt 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 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.