Color me completely SHOCKED that nationwide tolerance and acceptance is actually saving many teen lives.
Apparently, researchers have found a pretty promising correlation between the legalization of same-sex marriage and the overall adolescent suicide rate.
In a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers examined survey data from over 760,000 teenagers logged in the Center for Disease Control's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS).
Now, before same-sex marriage was legalized, researchers found a whopping 8.6 percent of high school students surveyed had attempted suicide, whereas an even more alarming 28.5 percent of LGBTQ teens had done the same.
But after surveying the students following the legalization of same-sex marriage — what do you know — scientists discovered a significant 7 percent decrease in the overall teen suicide attempt rate.
It's amazing what loving people can do, isn't it?
For those of you still on the fence about how much of an impact this drop is, the 7 percent figure equals about 134,000 fewer suicide attempts. And that decrease doubled in percentage for LGBTQ teenagers.
I don't know about you, but I think that's an astounding number of lives that could have been lost and an even more inspiring number of lives saved.
Given this data and the fact that suicide is actually the second leading cause of death in teens and young adults (ages 15 to 24), knowing the effects LGBTQ-related laws have on LGBTQ individuals — and young people as a whole — is an absolute necessity.
Ellen Kahn, director of the Children, Youth and Families Program at the Human Rights Campaign, told the Guardian,
LGBTQ youth are incredibly vulnerable to parental rejection, bullying and harassment at school, and lack of social support. What we can learn from this study, and what we know from hearing directly from LGBTQ youth, is that the convergence of a supportive family, a safe and welcoming school, legal protections, and being equal in the eyes of the law can provide the foundation necessary to thrive and flourish into adulthood.
Of course, this research isn't without flaws. While the correlation between same-sex marriage legalization and the drop in suicide attempts is promising, researchers haven't exactly found the law to be the actual cause for the decrease.
Co-author of the study, Julia Raifman, explained,
There are a number of potential mechanisms. 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.
I don't want to be too presumptuous here, but it's almost as if having the government (and people as a whole) reaffirm their validity and their basic human rights is more of a life saver for LGBTQ youth than intolerance is.
It's almost like love trumps hate. Always.
Citations: Teen Suicide Attempts in the U.S. Decreased After Same-Sex Marriage Was Legalized (New York Magazine), Drop in teenage suicide attempts linked to legalisation of same-sex marriage (The Guardian), Difference-in-Differences Analysis of the Association Between State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts (JAMA Pediatrics)