According to a recent survey, published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics on Monday, February 20th, legalizing same-sex marriage could have positively shifted the balance for stigmatized teens who were more predisposed to suicide because of their sexual preferences.
“The findings suggest that same-sex marriage policies reduced adolescent suicide attempts”, said Julia Raifman, study’s lead author and Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health postdoctoral fellow.
She added that lawmakers should be aware of the fact that certain policies that affect the LGBT community can also have consequences for child health. As an example, Julia Reifman talked about prior research that found teens who were either unsure of their sexual preferences or identified as gay or lesbian were more prone to be bullied and develop suicidal thoughts and self-destructive behavior.
A paper published last year on the behavioral patterns of bisexual, gay, and lesbian teens found that 40 percent of them have considered suicide and 29 percent attempted to take their own lives in 2015. The new research, however, analyzed past surveys conducted between 1999 and 2015 of approximately 760,000 U.S. teens from 47 states with the average age of 16.
Two years ago, 4 percent of the total students surveyed declared they were unsure about their sexual preferences, more than 6 percent identified as bisexual, and just over 2 percent admitted take a special interest in same-sex suitors. The researchers noted the paper did not follow whether the amount of teens sampled identified as transgender as well.
Julia Raifman and her team discovered that almost 9 percent of all students surveyed and 29 percent of lesbian, bisexual, and gay teenagers admitted having attempted suicide at some point in their lives. However, after the U.S. Supreme Court voted in favor in same-sex marriage in the summer of 2015, the researchers discovered that the suicide attempt rate dropped by 0.6 percent, a risk reduction of 7 percent. Nevertheless, the researchers did say that the survey was only observational and couldn’t prove cause and effect. Even so, Julia Raifman and her team believe that the drop in attempted suicide rates had a great deal to do with the reduction of the stigma, as all the country’s states officially approved of same-sex marriage.
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