Study links same-sex marriage in the US with 7 percent drop in teen suicides
The results of a new study suggests that the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the US is linked to a 7 percent drop in suicide attempts by teenagers.
The study, from the JAMA paediatrics journal, looked at data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between the years of 1999 and 2015.
It notes that there was a 7 percent drop in suicide attempts, around 134,000 fewer teenage suicides each year, from the population overall.
But interestingly, the results suggest that among LGB teens, there was a 14 percent reduction.
The study covered 762,678 students, and was controlled for age, gender, ethnicity, state and year.
It does not shed light on whether it is the actual Supreme Court ruling in favour of same-sex marriage which could have led to the drop, or whether it is campaigns leading to the decision.
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“These are high school students so they aren’t getting married any time soon, for the most part,” said study author Julia Raifman, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School.
“Still, permitting same-sex marriage reduces structural stigma associated with sexual orientation.”
She adds that the trend could go in the opposite direction, if laws protecting LGBT+ people are removed.
“We can all agree that reducing adolescent suicide attempts is a good thing, regardless of our political views,” she adds.
“Policymakers need to be aware that policies on sexual minority rights can have a real effect on the mental health of adolescents. The policies at the top can dictate in ways both positive and negative what happens further down.”
“It’s interesting times – we’ve got Donald Trump, who has been ambivalent and inconsistent with LGB issues at best, and explicitly discriminatory at worst,” she continues.
Legislators in a number of states have introduced anti-LGBT+ legislation, many which target the transgender community and trans people’s bathroom rights.
If you have been affected by issues in this article, and live in the UK, call the Samaritans on 116 123. If you are a young person in the US in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the Trevor Lifeline now at 866-488-7386. If you are an adult in need of support in the US, please call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-8255. If you are in Australia, contact the Australian Samaritans.