Teen Suicide Rates Down, Here’s Why
The legalisation of gay marriage in the U.S. has been linked to fewer teenagers attempting to take their own lives. Suicide attempts among high school students dropped by 7 percent following the change in marriage laws, according to researchers from John Hopkins University, Harvard and Boston Children’s Hospital.
The study, carried out across 17 years over 47 U.S states, saw the biggest drop among gay, lesbian and bisexual young people, with 14 percent less suicide attempts. It translates to roughly 134,000 fewer teens. As Forbes reports, it’s halfway to the government’s federal goal of reducing teen suicide by 10 percent in 2020. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds, according to the U.S Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, with numbers rising significantly among LGBTQ people.
“I would hope that policymakers and the public would consider the potential health implications of laws and policies affecting LGBT rights,” Julia Raifman, co-author of the research, said. “This study was really motivated by evidence that there are large disparities across domains of health that affect LGBT adolescents. I was interested in whether larger structural issues were potentially leading to those disparities.”
“There are a number of potential mechanisms,” explains Raifman. “Those include whether the policies themselves reduce perceived stigma among adolescents – and that may drive reductions in suicide attempts – but it is also possible that same-sex marriage policies drive social change among parents, teachers and peers of sexual minority adolescents. It is also possible that the campaigns around same-sex marriage policies are responsible for changing the experiences of LGB adolescents.”
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