The 2015 Supreme Court ruling regarding marriage equality between all sexes seems to have some beneficial unintended consequences. According to a new study, the number of teen suicides in the United States has decreased in the states where the gay marriage was already legal, prior to the ruling.
The researchers analyzed data regarding the prevalence of teen suicides between 1999 and 2015. They found that the rate of suicides among high school students dropped by 7 percent in the 32 states that had already legalized same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court made the final ruling for the entire country.
The researchers also found a 14 percent decline in students who identified as sexual minorities such as gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. According to the data collected by a 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, over 29 percent of all teenage sexual minorities attempted suicide in the last 12 months. The rate of suicide attempt in heterosexual students is only 6 percent.
The lead author of the study, Julia Raifman, who is a researcher at Johns Hopinks’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, stated that laws which have a big impact on gay adults, such as same-sex marriage, makes gay teenagers feel optimistic for the future, thus reducing the chance of attempted suicide.
The study, was published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal, did not find a direct causation between marriage equality policies and teen suicides, only a strong association between the two factors. For their study, the researchers reviewed data on more than 700,000 teens from 47 states in the 16-years period. Among all the participants, 231,413 teenagers identified as a sexual minority, with the exception of queer and transgender.
However, the researchers involved in the study were quick to recognize the limits of the study such as the fact that it was based on data reported by the students. The study also did not account for a number of other factors that lead someone to attempt suicide like socioeconomic status, their religious affiliation, and other factors.
Therefore, the is still a need for further research in order to better understand the link between the rights of sexual minorities, the social stigma, and their overall health.
What do you think about the study’s findings?
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