097: Rising Suicide Rates & Our LGBT+ Members Part 1

Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Dr. Daniel Parkinson, a psychiatrist who was raised Mormon and left the church partly due to being gay, and Thomas Montgomery, Mormon father of a gay son and husband to Wendy Montgomery who helped found the Mama Dragons. Both men recently collaborated on some articles they decided to publish on the same day, Utah’s Escalating Suicide Crisis and LDS LGBTQ Despair on Rational Faiths and Rejection and the Family on No More Strangers. They discuss the alarming increase in suicide rates in Utah — a trend that has been apparent since the Church’s involvement in Prop 8, increased focus on anti-gay rhetoric in talks over the pulpit and the “November 5th policy” which specifically calls out homosexual marriage as a sin worthy of excommunication going as far as disallowing children who reside in such marriages to participate in Mormon ordinances. Many from within church activity dismiss this type of “anecdotal evidence” stating that one can not blame the Church or any one reason for something as complicated as suicide. Both interviewer and interviewees challenge this type of thinking and call on leaders and members alike to take note and be alarmed at the harm that is being done to LGBT+ members across the age spectrum. With the April 2017 Ensign having yet another anti-LBGT article being published just this coming month… these types of podcasts sharing valuable information can be life-saving to many within our midst. Please listen.

Resources/Articles/Support Groups mentioned throughout the podcast:

Family Acceptance Project

Families are Forever

Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She writes at The Mormon Therapist for Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith, runs Mormon Sex Info and is the current president for the Mormon Mental Health Association.


3 comments for “097: Rising Suicide Rates & Our LGBT+ Members Part 1

  1. Nicki
    March 25, 2017 at 9:06 pm


    Thank you for such an informative website! With regards to Natasha Helfer Parker, could you please tell me if she in 2017 is currently a member of the LDS faith in good standing with the church?

    I am always curious when people use the term Mormon with work they are doing that is not church sponsored, and we are talking about her profession here. Does this mean if she were to hold a session with a new client, that one should assume her approach would be from the perspective of a Mormon?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    • natashaparker
      April 8, 2017 at 3:46 am

      Hello Nicki,
      I have been a member of the church since my parents converted when I was a small child. There are no disciplinary issues in regards to my membership if that is what you are asking.
      I have worked mainly with Mormons on all ends of the spectrum – what we would call from orthodox to ex – for most of my career, and I consider myself well-versed in Mormon themes and culturally competent. I frequently train other professionals on how to work effectively with a Mormon clientele.
      My husband and I are currently on sabbatical from church attendance in support of a child who does not feel comfortable attending due to identifying as LGBTQ and unfortunate experiences they had in our ward… but plan on returning.
      My perspective as a professional working with new clients should ethically be able to work with members and non-members alike, with respect and honor for their faith, traditions and values that they bring into session – without projecting my own. That’s the responsibility of any mental health professional.
      I hope this answers your questions satisfactorily.

  2. Gail
    May 4, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    I’m starting to look at this to research the topic. This is such a sad state of affairs. It ISN’T altitude. What is the suicide rate of senior age citizens in Utah? My guess is that it is much lower than the national average.

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