BYU study finds LGBQ LDS youth show lower suicidality than their non-LDS counterparts.

Jul 27, 2021
Academic / Technical Report
Justin Dyer

Justin Dyer, Michael Goodman, and David Wood, "Religion and Sexual Orientation as Predictors of Utah Youth Suicidality," BYU Studies Quarterly (Forthcoming, Prepublication Manuscript, 27 July 2021): 2, 23

BYU Studies
David Wood, Michael Goodman, Justin Dyer
Reading Public


In a sample of 86,346 youth in Utah (grades 6,8,10, and 12) the relationship between religion and suicidality and depression was examined. Previous research suggests religion is protective, though whether it is also protective for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning individuals (LGBQ) is debated. In line with previous research, we hypothesized that those belonging to the dominant religion in Utah (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) would have lower suicidality than other religious groups due to greater family connections, lower substance use, and more community connections (i.e., less bullying for sexual orientation or religion and feeling safer at school). Whether this held for LGBQ individuals was also examined. Overall, results found Latter-day Saints were lower in suicidality and depression; differences were almost entirely explained by family connections and substance use (less so by community connections). Similarly, regarding suicidality and depression, LGBQ Latter-day Saints were significantly lower than or equal to LGBQ individuals of other religions and no religion. 

. . . .


This study examined differences in suicidality and depression across religion and sexual orientation in a representative sample of Utah youth in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12. For the entire sample, before taking any other factors into account, Latter-day Saints were lower in their suicidality and/or depression than those of any other religious group or those of no religion. This is in line with previous research on Latter-day Saints and suicide in Utah46. Going beyond this previous work, analyses here were able to explain these differences. Indeed, based on the data available in the SHARP survey, the majority of differences were explained by family connections and drug use.

This same pattern held for LGBQ individuals. LGBQ Latter-day Saints were lower in their suicidality and/or depression than LGBQ individuals of any other religion or no religion. Again, the majority of these differences became non-statistically significant when taking into account controls, family connections, and substance use. That is, results suggest the reason for LGBQ Latter-day Saints being lower in their suicidality and/or depression is because of their stronger family connections and less drug use.

Thus, results suggest that, on average, Latter-day Saints (whether LGBQ or not) are lower in suicidality and depression given Latter-day Saints have (again, on average) stronger family connections and less drug use. This suggests that independent of religious background, a youth with a strong family background and low levels of substance use will have lower suicidality and depression. Hilton et al. (2002) posited drug use as a possible reason for their findings of lower suicidality of Latter-day Saints. It also appears strong family connections are central to lower risk of suicide.

BHR Staff Commentary

Citations in Mormonr Qnas
Copyright © B. H. Roberts Foundation
The B. H. Roberts Foundation is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.