Religious experience, religiosity, and suicidality among gender and sexual minorities
Brooks, Keyondra L.
AdvisorLewis, Rhonda K.
MetadataShow full item record
Across demographic categories, suicide rates have been steadily increasing at both US and international levels. Gender and sexual minorities display even higher suicide rates than the others due to structural discrimination. For the general population, religious practice can be a source of coping and support. Yet, many religious institutions, their policies, and their followers exclude and discriminate against gender and sexual minorities (GSMs). Minority stress theory supports that gender and sexual minorities face unique minority stressors due to their membership in a stigmatized group and that these stressors manifest themselves socially. To examine the relationship between religion-specific minority stressors, suicide and depression, a combined sample of 102 GSM and 110 non-GSM individuals completed suicidality, depression, and religiosity measures. Comparison between the two groups displayed significantly higher means for suicidality and depression. Gender and sexual minorities also completed minority stress measures. For the GSM subset of the sample, minority stressors were positively correlated with religiosity across several domains. Also, minority stress factors of vigilance, isolation, and victimization were correlated with poorer mental health. A binary logistic regression was completed to observe the impact of ethnicity, religiosity, and GSM status on lifetime suicidal contemplation. Results indicated no significant impact of ethnic category or religiosity score. However, GSMs in the sample showed increased odds for experiencing suicidal contemplation compared to those endorsing straight, cisgender identities. Optional, open-ended qualitative prompts were included in the survey to observe the perceived impact of religion on mental health among GSMs. Thematic analysis yielded themes of non-negative impact on wellbeing, rejection, and dissonance. Lastly, discussion of results covered study limitations, recommendations, and future directions.
Thesis (Ph.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology