State legalization of same-sex marriage appears to be linked to a decrease in adolescent suicide, based on a new analysis published today in JAMA Pediatrics. The results give more context to the potential effects of social policy on mental health.
The researchers found that suicide attempts by high school students decreased by 7 percent in states after they passed laws to legalize same-sex marriage, before the Supreme Court legalized it nationwide in 2015. Among LGB high school students, the decrease was especially concentrated, with suicide attempts falling by 14 percent. But in states that did not legalize same-sex marriage, there was no change.
Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the second for people aged 10 to 24. But young LGB people are particularly affected, attempting suicide at four times the rate of straight youth, according to the Trevor Project, an organization that works to prevent suicide among LGBT youth.