Questioning the link between Mormonism and LGBT suicides

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drumdude
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Questioning the link between Mormonism and LGBT suicides

Post by drumdude »

Religion and Sexual Orientation as Predictors of Utah Youth Suicidality (2022)

https://byustudies.byu.edu/article/reli ... icidality/

“[A]ccording to the Utah Department of Health, there was a 136.2 percent increase in suicides among Utah youth age 10-17 from 2011 to 2015, compared to an increase of 24 percent nationally.” (51)

“It is important to view Utah’s suicide rates within the context of its region. Utah sits in the middle of a band of states with higher suicide rates sometimes called the “suicide belt.”” These are typically said to be Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. “These states all have higher rates of suicide than the nation and share characteristics that are related to greater suicide rates, including higher altitude, lower population density, and high gun ownership. Utah sits in the middle of the suicide belt both geographically and in its suicide rate. In 2019, four of the surrounding states had higher suicide rates, and the large increase in Utah suicide rates was average among the suicide belt states.” (51-52)

“Utah does, however, stand out in its religious profile with a 68.6 percent of its population being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Despite having an average suicide rate for its region, some have suggested Utah’s higher rates may be due to the Church of Jesus Christ’s conservative stance on sexuality.” (52)

Since Émile Durkheim raised the question of the relationship between religion and suicide in 1897, researchers have generally found that religious affiliation, religious behaviors, and religious beliefs seem to be protective against suicide, providing community connection, social networks, and a sense of direction and meaning.

Religion may also help to reduce suicidality through its tendency to strengthen family relationships, foster happier marriages and greater marital stability, and encourage better parenting.

Some have speculated that religiously-based disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, creating shame and alienation in LGBQ persons, puts those persons at increased risk for suicide.

However, research overall seems to suggest that religion is actually protective, on average, for LGBQ individuals and their mental health.
Several studies indicate that Latter-day Saint and/or specifically active Latter-day Saints are significantly lower — by significant and significantly, the authors are referring to statistical significance — in suicidal thoughts and in suicide attempts than are those of other religions included in the studies.

“In this study, we sought to determine whether, in Utah, rates of Latter-day Saints’ suicidal thoughts and attempts were significantly different from those individuals from other religions or no religion.” (58)

Latter-day Saints [are] lower than national rates in thoughts and attempts.” (66)

“Those of all other religions (including nones — which means no specific religious affiliation) were significantly higher in considering suicide, attempting suicide, and depression than Latter-day Saints.” (66)

Latter-day Saints remained significantly lower than all other religious groups [as categorized in the study] in suicidality and depression.” (66; compare 69, 72, 75, 76, 77)

“Study results suggest that LGBQ Latter-day Saints are not at higher suicidality risk than LGBQ youth of other religions or those with no religious affiliation, and in fact were significantly lower in suicidality than several of these other groups. Initial difference tests . . . suggest Latter-day Saints are, on average, lower in suicidality than most other religious groups.” (76)

“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.” (77)

“Although some have suggested otherwise, results here give support to research suggesting that, in Utah, being a Latter-day Saint is protective against depression and suicidality even for LGBQ individuals.” (81)

“Utah data match other state and national data suggesting significantly higher rates of suicide ideation and attempt among those youth who identify as LGBQ versus those who identify as heterosexual.” (81)

“60.5% of LGBQ Utah teens who had no religion had, at some point in their lives, identified as Latter-day Saint. Of that 60.5%, 42.4% had seriously considered suicide and 11.5% had attempted suicide. It is worth noticing that these rates are lower than CDC [Centers for Disease Control] estimates for LGB individuals nationwide.” (101-102)

“LGBQ Latter-day Saints (current and estimated former combined) remain . . . significantly lower in suicide ideation and suicide attempt than LGBQ individuals of no religion.” (102)
I often see John on Mormon Stories repeat this claim that Mormonism is linked to higher LGBT suicides. To be clear, if there is no link then that is in spite of Mormonism's best attempts to marginalize LGBT members, not because Mormonism cares about them. The gay parents exclusion revelation on its own is strong enough evidence of that. But I would hate to see the discussion about harmful Mormon policies derailed by appealing to a statistical link which doesn't exist.
dastardly stem
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Re: Questioning the link between Mormonism and LGBT suicides

Post by dastardly stem »

I wouldn’t doubt at all that this narrative (causing suicides) has been more damaging than helpful and I’ve struggled to find any connection that many, like John, are shouting dogmatically. Often I question whether John is a responsible interlocutor, and admittedly, I lost trust that he’s an honest one some time ago.

This is interesting.
“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”
― Carl Sagan, Cosmos
Marcus
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Re: Questioning the link between Mormonism and LGBT suicides

Post by Marcus »

i agree that the way Dehlin uses this topic only opens the door for "more damaging than helpful" discussions, but the study you referenced in your opening post has some significant problems.

The most significant is that a full third of the respondents in their data set (the 6th graders out of grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 respondents) were not asked the question re: sexual orientation, which is a crucial question in evaluating their results. The BYU authors missed that and listed the problem instead as "missing values."

Here is a quote of mine from the last time we looked at this that sums up the issue:
Lem wrote:
Fri Oct 15, 2021 6:57 am
One more quote from the paper:
Sexual orientation.

Participants were asked: Which of the following best describe you? with responses: Heterosexual (straight), Bisexual, Gay or lesbian, Not sure.

Given the substantial number of missing values (27.2%), it was determined to treat “missing” as a distinct category within the analyses. Although these values could have been imputed, we did not have high confidence in substantially identifying the mechanism of missingness.

They are therefore treated as a unique category and it was examined if this group followed patterns of heterosexuals and LGBQ individuals in relation to the outcomes.
Well, I can help with the bolded “mechanism of missingness.”

As per page 4 [of the 2019 data set the authors used], note the footnote explaining the use of the sexual orientation question:

** A question about sexual orientation was added to the 2019 survey instrument used by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. (6th grade surveys omitted this question.
So here is their “mechanism of missingness”:

When the data was coded into STATA, someone didn’t read the footnote above. All sixth grade survey entries recorded their answer to the sexual orientation question as “missing”, instead of some human sticking their head up and saying, “hey guys! I think we have a problem here….THIRTY PERCENT of our respondents didn’t get asked the one question we are relying on the most….”

“mechanism of missingness.” I am laughing my ass off over here at that one. Didn’t the mean grade of 6.11 for the missing answers, in a survey of grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 ONLY, tip anyone off?

On a side note, when Dan Peterson became aware that the paper was being discussed here, he referred to my comments as "easy ad hominem."
Some might scoff at this first study because two of its three authors are on the faculty of Religious Education at Brigham Young University.  What kind of qualifications would they have for addressing a topic such as this? 

....Which is to say that the study will need to be evaluated on its merits or its lack of merits rather than dismissed with an easy ad hominem. 

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeters ... icide.html
Evaluating the study "on its merits or its lack of merits" is exactly what i did.

I would have thought that Peterson might have sent my analysis to his fellow professors as just a courteous heads up about a possible issue, but apparently not.

ETA: (i apologize for putting a quote of mine in under a different name, but under the circumstances i don't know how else to bring the information to light. Sorry, mods, do whatever you need to if i am breaking a rule.)
drumdude
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Re: Questioning the link between Mormonism and LGBT suicides

Post by drumdude »

He's just posted it a second time, so it appears he has been completely deaf to the arguments against the paper. You can lead an apologist to the Discuss Mormonism forum, but you can't make him think!
Marcus
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Re: Questioning the link between Mormonism and LGBT suicides

Post by Marcus »

drumdude wrote:
Tue Sep 20, 2022 9:43 pm
He's just posted it a second time, so it appears he has been completely deaf to the arguments against the paper. You can lead an apologist to the Discuss Mormonism forum, but you can't make him think!
I saw that. Wow, he really does watch us constantly!
DCP wrote: I also read, among other things, an interesting sociological study: W. Justin Dyer, Michael A. Goodman, and David S. Wood, “Religion and Sexual Orientation as Predictors of Utah Youth Suicidality,” BYU Studies Quarterly 61/2 (2022); 51-103. Here are some notes from my reading:
What's missing from his reading notes is any admission that a full one-third of the study's data set was not even asked the one single question which forms the basis of their entire study, and the authors apparently have no idea what they've missed. They misrecorded the data as "unanswered" instead of unasked, and then spun a bizarre justification. In fact, one of the footnotes recounts a 6th grader telling them he didn't know how to answer that question so he left it blank, which cannot possibly be true, since 6th graders weren't asked that.

Peterson, on the other hand, is clearly aware of this significant error, which he has indicated by accusing the person who identified the error as one engaging in "easy ad hominem."

That is a shameful academic position to take. For him to continue to promote a study when he is aware of the possibility of such a significant error is academically dishonest.
IHAQ
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Re: Questioning the link between Mormonism and LGBT suicides

Post by IHAQ »

The study also fails to account for those surveyed but who have disaffiliated from the Church and no longer consider themselves Mormon.

Plus:
We were interested in this large group of individuals who did not report their sexual orientation. We thought it possible that these individuals might be LGBQ youth who were unwilling to disclose their sexuality, even on an anonymous survey. We therefore conducted the same analyses with this group as with the heterosexual and LGBQ groups to see whether they were more like the heterosexual or nonheterosexual youth.
This is a disclaimer on the study from which the authors drew their data and conclusions.
When using the information in this report, please pay attention to the number of students who participated from your community. If 60% or more of the students participated, the report is a good indicator of the levels of substance use, risk, protection, and antisocial behav- ior. If fewer than 60% participated, consult with your local prevention coordinator or a survey professional before generalizing the results to the entire community.
https://dsamh.utah.gov/pdf/sharp/2019/S ... Report.pdf
IHAQ
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Re: Questioning the link between Mormonism and LGBT suicides

Post by IHAQ »

Marcus wrote:
Tue Sep 20, 2022 8:54 pm
i agree that the way Dehlin uses this topic only opens the door for "more damaging than helpful" discussions, but the study you referenced in your opening post has some significant problems.

The most significant is that a full third of the respondents in their data set (the 6th graders out of grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 respondents) were not asked the question re: sexual orientation, which is a crucial question in evaluating their results. The BYU authors missed that and listed the problem instead as "missing values."
Here's what the BYU authors said:
It is worth noting that those missing sexual orientation data were most likely to be in the sixth grade (mean = 6.11), whereas heterosexuals and LGBQ individuals were, on average, almost four grades older (means of 9.95 and 9.74, respectively). It may be that sixth graders had difficulty answering the sexual orientation question.49
https://byustudies.byu.edu/article/reli ... icidality/

It is definitely difficult to answer a question you weren't asked.

On page 4 of the original study from which they drew their data:
** A question about sexual orientation was added to the 2019 survey instrument used by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. (6th grade surveys omitted this question.) If any response category has fewer than 10 respondents, all question data are suppressed to protect student privacy.
https://byustudies.byu.edu/article/reli ... icidality/

Did they even read the original report?
I suspect they missed it in their haste to find the data that supported the conclusion they had already decided to draw.
Marcus
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Re: Questioning the link between Mormonism and LGBT suicides

Post by Marcus »

DCP wrote: Now, I can easily imagine at least a few of my most obsessive and disingenuous critics skimming through my notes above and reporting to their credulous fellows that I’m saying that the problem of youth suicides isn’t tragically important and/or that the lives of young homosexuals don’t matter. That all is well in Zion, and that the only thing that matters to me is the reputation of the Church. If so, they will be spreading a malicious lie.....
again, he is imagining enemies. :roll:
But I do think that the study that I read today should be taken into account
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeters ... -utah.html
not until they fix their massive error.
Marcus wrote:
Wed Sep 21, 2022 7:42 am

...What's missing from [Peterson's] reading notes is any admission that a full one-third of the study's data set was not even asked the one single question which forms the basis of their entire study, and the authors apparently have no idea what they've missed. They misrecorded the data as "unanswered" instead of unasked, and then spun a bizarre justification. In fact, one of the footnotes recounts a 6th grader telling them he didn't know how to answer that question so he left it blank, which cannot possibly be true, since 6th graders weren't asked that.

... For [Peterson] to continue to promote a study when he is aware of the possibility of such a significant error is academically dishonest.
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