July 15, 2016

LDS Church and Suicide Prevention

This past November, LDS church leaders declared those in same-sex marriages apostates. The resolution prevents children of such couples from becoming church members or partaking in baptism until after the age of 18 and a disavowal of same-sex relationships.

Many in the LDS church disagree with this anti-LGBTQ stance and are encouraging fellow Mormons to love inclusively and unconditionally, but there is incredible need to work within this community for greater inclusion of LGBTQ youth and understanding of the issues these children face. Despite some recent conversations among church leaders about increasing support for LGBTQ people, the lived experience of youth who identify as LGBTQ leaves them feeling vulnerable and the potential for self -harm is higher. Many people are still reeling from Orlando on a number of levels and the feelings of isolation and rejection, with LGBTQ youth particularly vulnerable.  

Studies showed that suicide is  the number one cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 19 in Utah, and the state also has the fourth highest suicide rate in the country for people of all ages. Suicide rates among LGB youth are high nationwide, at four times the likelihood of non-LGBTQ children. The risk is greater for trans youth, a demographic whose suicide attempt likelihood is ten times higher than the national average - and continues to climb. However, support and acceptance from family and friends has proven to be a significant factor in lowering those rates and promoting mental well-being for LGBTQ individuals.

Reconciling one’s faith with LGBTQ sympathies can be difficult, but the two need not contradict each other. Above all, PFLAG encourages dialogue with LGBTQ loved ones in the interest of proliferating understanding and love at home and in context of faith communities.

If you or someone you know is experiencing feelings of suicide or depression, do not hesitate to reach out for help or encourage another to do so. Encourage honest dialogue at home, avoid stigmatizing mental health struggles, and encourage openness in times of trauma.

Remember, if you or an LGBTQ loved one struggle with suicidal ideation or mental illness, especially if you are a member of a faith community, you are not alone. Those words may seem distant when read on a computer screen, but they are realized through thousands of LGBTQ youth around the country dealing with similar thoughts and situations, as well as a vast network of allies - including PFLAG chapters - who believe in and support you locally and from afar.

 

LGBTQ Crisis Resources, Suicide Hotlines, and Faith-based Support:

 

The Trevor Project

LGBTQ Youth Crisis & Support Lifeline
The Trevor Project’s website provides resources for suicide prevention, as a well as a crisis hotline with options via phone, text, and chat.
Trevor Lifeline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386)

 

The Family Acceptance Project

This project offers resources and educational materials for families with LGBTQ members, particularly with regard to mental health care issues. Their offerings include an educational publication for those who are members of the Latter Day Saints community.
 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

 

PFLAG

Local PFLAG Chapters can provide support for those with LGBTQ loved ones who are struggling with suicidal ideation. PFLAG also has online resources for those dealing with these issues from a perspective of faith.
 
 

Additional resources for those located in Utah:

 

Utah Pride Empathy Line 

24-hour hotline offering help for LGBTQ individuals.
1-800-GO-PRIDE 

 

SafeUT App

Crisis call center and mobile app.
Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
SafeUT Mobile App is available via Apple and Google Play; search “P3 Tips” and select “SafeUT.”
 

Utah Suicide Hotline

24-hour crisis hotline.
Valley Mental Health
(801) 261-1442
 
 

LDS-Specific Resources:

 

Affirmation 

Supports LGBTQ/SSA Mormons and their families, friends and Church leaders in seeking to live healthy and productive lives consistent with their faith or heritage by providing online educational resources, support, and encouragement.
 

LDS Family Fellowship

Support organization, engaged in strengthening relationships between LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) individuals, their families and friends.
 

Mama Dragons

Supportive group of Mormon and faith-inclusive mothers who champion children in faith, family, and LGBTQIA communities.
 

Gay Mormon LDS Reconciliation

Resource for gay Mormon men, women, and their families; providing online materials and support groups.
 
 
 

Sources

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