By Mandy Froelich / Truth Theory
According to new research, teen suicide attempts in the United States declined after same-sex marriage was legalized. Reportedly, the biggest impact was among gay, lesbian, and bisexual kids.
Researchers found declines in states that passed laws allowing gays to marry before the Supreme Court made it legal nationwide. While the results don’t prove a connection, the team said policymakers should be aware of the measures’ potential benefits for youth mental health.
The study was published in early February in JAMA Pediatrics. For the research, a team analyzed data on more than 70,000 public high school students who participated in government surveys. The questionnaire focused on risky youth behavior between 1999 through 2015, the year the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.
All in all, 26,252 students reported being gay, lesbian, or bisexual. The surveys did not inquire about transgender status but did include questions about suicide attempts, smoking, and alcohol or drug abuse.
In the 32 states that enacted same-sex marriage laws during the study, suicide attempts dropped 7 percent among all students and 14 percent among gay kids after the laws were passed, reports AP News. In states that did not pass laws, there was no change in suicide attempts.
According to PRB, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for all teens in the United States. In the study, approximately 29 percent of teens reported attempting suicide, compared with 6 percent of straight teenagers.
The recent finding highlights the necessity for tolerance on a political level, as well as social level. Julia Raifman, a researcher at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, believes laws that have the greatest impact on gay adults may make gay kids feel “more hopeful for the future.”
As more measures are passed to create less bullying, teens may feel less stigmatized and, as a result, feel less compelled to self-harm. More research is needed to determine how the laws might influence both teen and adult behavior, Raifman added.
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