Suicide rates drop in places which legalise same-sex marriage, a study has found.
Research conducted by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analysed suicide prevalence rates for high school students among US states, to compare those which had legalised marriage for same-sex couples and those which haven’t. It analysed states which had passed marriage equality legislation at different points in time and the corresponding impact on suicide prevalence.
Although marriage equality was legalised by the Supreme Court in 2015, some individual states had previously passed their own legislation locally to do so.
They found when states did pass the legislation, students in that state were 7 per cent less likely to try to take their own lives.
The largest decline in attempts was noted among student who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
It has been suggested that this is due to LGBT students feeling accepted by their communities and thereby having better mental health. LGBT people have considerably higher rates of mental health diagnoses, with depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation, than heterosexual people, which is thought to be due to the emotional and psychological toll of social stigma and prejudice.
However, the figures do not necessarily mean that correlation equals causation. For instance, states which are more liberal might be more likely to legalise marriage equality whilst also pursuing more progressive policies on mental health support throughout the state.
The study’s lead author Julia Raifman said the research should be a starting point for more detailed exploration of the issue. She said: “I think it is good for parents, teachers and medical professionals to be aware of the disparity and try to address it.
“I think there is a need for further research. A lot of studies look at interventions for suicide attempts, but none have really focused on LGBT interventions.”
LGBT rights across the globe
LGBT rights across the globe
Russia’s antipathy towards homosexuality has been well established following the efforts of human rights campaigners. However, while it is legal to be homosexual, LGBT couples are offered no protections from discrimination. They are also actively discriminated against by a 2013 law criminalising LGBT “propaganda” allowing the arrest of numerous Russian LGBT activists. (Picture: Riot police hold an LGBT activist during a Moscow rall.)
Men who are found having sex with other men face stoning, while lesbians can be imprisoned, under Sharia law. However, the state has not reportedly executed anyone for this ‘crime’ since 1987. (Picture: Chinguetti Mosque, Mauritania.)
3/7 Saudi Arabia
Homosexuality and transgender is illegal and punishable by the death penalty, imprisonment, corporal punishment, whipping and chemical castration. (Picture: The emblem of Saudi Arabia above the embassy in London.)
Bruno Vincent/Getty Images
The official position within the country is that there are no gays. LGBT inviduals, if discovered by the government, are likely to face intense pressure. Punishments range from flogging to the death penalty. (Picture: Yemen's southern port of Aden.)
Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal and in some northern states punishable with death by stoning. This is not a policy enacted across the entire country, although there is a prevalent anti-LGBT agenda pushed by the government. In 2007 a Pew survey established that 97 per cent of the population felt that homosexuality should not be accepted. It is publishable by 14 years in prison. (Picture: The northern Nigerian town of Damasak.)
Homosexuality was established as a crime in 1888 and under new Somali Penal Code established in 1973 homosexual sex can be punishable by three years in prison. (Picture: Families use a boat to cross a flooded Shebelle River, in Jowhar.)
Although same-sex relationships have been decriminalised, much of the population still suffer from intense discrimination. Additionally, in some of the country over-run by the extremist organisation Isis, LGBT individuals can face death by stoning. (Picture: Purported Isis fighters in Iraq.)
On 26 June 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a legal right to marry throughout the country. Previously, a number of states had passed their own legislation to that effect but it was not uniformly adopted around the US.
Same-sex marriage is legal throughout the UK, with the exception of Northern Ireland. It became legal in England and Wales in 2014, followed by Scotland in December 2014.