Marriage equality laws help reduce suicide attempts by gay youth


In a 16-year period during which changes in state marriage laws were sweeping the nation, states that adopted laws allowing same-sex marriage saw an immediate decline in suicide attempts by gay, lesbian and bisexual high school students – a group in which attempted suicide is two to seven times more common than among their heterosexual peers.

In the year following any state’s adoption of marriage equality, rates of attempted suicide among such high schoolers in that state fell 14 percent below that group’s rate of suicide attempts in states that had not changed their policies on marriage.

In short, the research suggests, the effect of state marriage equality laws passed between 1999 and 2015 extended far beyond gay men and lesbians intent on marrying: For high schoolers coming to terms with their “sexual minority” status, their state’s adoption of a marriage equality law appeared to ease a stigma that drives many to consider suicide.

All told, the researchers estimated, from 1999 to 2015, same-sex marriage policies would be associated each year with 134,000 fewer adolescents attempting suicide.

Between 1999 and 2015, when marriage equality became the law of the land, 32 states adopted laws allowing same-sex couples to wed. The new research, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, is the first to explore how that rapid social and legal change affected the psychological health of gay, lesbian and bisexual high school students.

via U.S. News