STUDY: Suicide Crisis Among Religious Gay Teens In Israel

A new study presented in Tel Aviv this week indicates a disproportionately high number of suicide attempts by gay teens in Israel, especially among those who consider themselves religious.

While 3.5% of the 1,134 respondents (637 Jews and 497 Arabs) said they had tried to take their own life, that number skyrocketed to 20% for LGBT youth—112 times the rate of the general population. But the percentage among religious Jewish gays was even higher: “This is a sector that does not get enough notice, and it is a hotbed for suicides that you later hear about after the fact,” concludes the study’s author, Dr. Chana Bar Yosef. “The suicide rate among religious homosexuals is the highest because they experience more distress when confronting their families.”

Part of Yosef’s goal was to show how many suicide attempts go unreported: Israel’s Ministry of Health bases its data on victims who have visited the emergency room or received other documented care. Yosef specifically did not include teens who attempts were reported. She says if she had, the numbers would have skewed even higher across the board.

While the official Orthodox Jewish stance on homosexuality is similar to fundamentalist Christians’ condemnation, Judaism’s larger Reformed and Conservative movements are considerably more accepting. Both have moved toward embracing LGBT clergy and same-sex marriage. HOD, a group for gay religious Jews in Israel, attempts to combat LGBT suicide “by increasing awareness of the issue in the educational and rabbinic institutions.”

In the United States, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center reports that between 30% and 40% of LGBT youth have attempted suicide at least once. Without further research its hard to say whether the difference in statistics is due to underreporting, more acceptance of gay youth or some other, undiscovered factor.

Photo: Eyes Wide Open

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  • Cam

    Judaism’s larger Reformed and Conservative movements are considerably more accepting. Both have moved toward embracing LGBT clergy and same-sex marriage.””

    They haven’t “Moved Toward” embracing LGBT clergy and Marriage, they have fully embraced it. Both conservative and reform movements ordain gay rabbis and perform gay marriges.

    As for the suicide statistics, these strict religions, no matter the deniomination are truly a danger to these kids.

  • Neo

    It is sad to see this happen all over the world where religion is strong. People need to be taught from a young age that they are free to choose their own path through life and should you wish to become religious you should not be forced until you are at least 16.

    While this dogma still poisons the majority psyche it is sadly a statistic that will rise as the younger generations grow ever more socially conscious and intelligent.

  • Freddie27

    The Haredi Jews in Israel are nuts. They stoned a dog because their “court” found it guilty of demonic possession and they spit on schoolgirls and female IDF soldiers if they dare sit or stand next to men in public.


    Talking about Jews, LOL how fast can we foget what the fucking Christian, keep doing in the world as if it`s theirs. Christianity is a mental illness! ther fore Christian are mentally ill.

  • andy_d

    Regardless of the religion, be it Judaism (my religion), Christianity or Islam, fundamentalist literalism and closed-mindedness is a shameful situation that causes so many young men and women to suffer in this regard.

    The film, “Trembling Before G-d,” is, in my opinion, an excellent documentary about orthodox GLBT people. It can be viewed free of charge online.

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