As same-sex marriage became legal across the country, teen suicide attempts dropped, a new study has found.
States that legalized gay marriage before the Supreme Court’s national ruling saw a decline in teen suicide attempts by 14 percent, the AP reports. Attempts by all students dropped by 7 percent as well. The study found suicide attempts did not change positively nor negatively in states that did not pass gay marriage.
Published in JAMA Pediatrics on Monday, the study drew on responses from over 700,000 high school students across 1999 to 2015 from a government survey; 26,252 of the students in the survey responded as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
The study is welcoming news for the LGBTQ community. Suicide rates continue to be high among queer youth, with approximately 29 percent of the study’s queer teens reporting a suicide attempt. In comparison, only 6 percent of straight respondents attempted suicide. AP stresses that there isn’t a direct correlation between gay marriage’s legalization and a drop in LGBTQ suicide attempts, but rather that LGBTQ-affirming policies may provide indirect psychological benefits to teens’ mental well-being.
Lead author Julia Raifman from Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health provides an explanation. She suggests that LGBTQ-supportive laws may lower suicide attempt rates thanks to a decrease in bullying and queer alienation. Gay marriage laws may leave LGBTQ kids feeling “more hopeful for the future,” she explained. But Raifman believes further research is necessary before any firm conclusions can be made.
The response did not draw on transgender suicide attempts, which remain high, as trans students suffer from depression more their cisgender peers. However, with the White House planning to roll back on the Obama administration’s guidelines for providing accommodations for transgender students, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer calling trans guidelines “a states’ rights issue,” the study’s findings may prove relevant for questions of trans discrimination laws in the near future.