Has legalization of same-sex marriage cut American youth suicide rates?

O

Oscurito

I've seen this in a couple of different publications over the last few days. Now, I am inclined to be wary of any studies that very readily assign causes and effects to seemingly correlative data. Often there's a third factor which is actually the one driving the correlation and when it's removed, there's no correlation at all.

In this case, those US states that passed marriage equality laws saw attempted youth suicide rates fall by 0.6 percentage points against states that did not. This amounts to an average drop of 7%. It is known that LGBT young people are far more likely to commit suicide so perhaps, when US states were legalizing same sex marriage, the message of tolerance and acceptance that was sent was enough to cause a significant number of young people who otherwise would ended it all to decide to hang in there, that this world wasn't so bad after all.

We're somewhat slower in this country in releasing official suicide statistics so it's too early to know if the May 2015 vote had a similar effect here. In any case, the smaller numbers due to smaller population might make it more difficult to see a trend but it's worth looking out for.

Other jurisdictions** who have not yet passed marriage equality laws might bear this study in mind.

The Guardian: Drop in teenage suicide attempts linked to legalisation of same-sex marriage

**Australia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy etc.
 


stopdoingstuff

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We can only hope that it has had some sort of positive impact on vulnerable young people who might otherwise be alienated and suffer from mental health issues.
 

amist4

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I've seen this in a couple of different publications over the last few days. Now, I am inclined to be wary of any studies that very readily assign causes and effects to seemingly correlative data. Often there's a third factor which is actually the one driving the correlation and when it's removed, there's no correlation at all.

In this case, those US states that passed marriage equality laws saw attempted youth suicide rates fall by 0.6 percentage points against states that did not. This amounts to an average drop of 7%. It is known that LGBT young people are far more likely to commit suicide so perhaps, when US states were legalizing same sex marriage, the message of tolerance and acceptance that was sent was enough to cause a significant number of young people who otherwise would ended it all to decide to hang in there, that this world wasn't so bad after all.

We're somewhat slower in this country in releasing official suicide statistics so it's too early to know if the May 2015 vote had a similar effect here. In any case, the smaller numbers due to smaller population might make it more difficult to see a trend but it's worth looking out for.

Other jurisdictions** who have not yet passed marriage equality laws might bear this study in mind.

The Guardian: Drop in teenage suicide attempts linked to legalisation of same-sex marriage

**Australia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy etc.
One can only imagine the frenzy if the rates increased and anyone dared suggest reversing the laws now or down the road.
 

wexfordman

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One can only imagine the frenzy if the rates increased and anyone dared suggest reversing the laws now or down the road.
Absolutely spot on! One can only imagine!!
 

livingstone

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Haven't read the study but it wouldn't be surprising.

It can't be unexpected that if we tell young gay people that they can legally do what they like, but don't expect to fall in love, have a fulfilling, worthwhile relationship, have a family etc, then those young people are more likely to be unhappy, depressed or even suicidal than young people who grow up knowing that those things are open to them.

Marriage isn't the only thing that contributes to this, but it's one thing. Seeing gay couples on TV or in films, or even in their communities, helps too.
 

Mercurial

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I've seen this in a couple of different publications over the last few days. Now, I am inclined to be wary of any studies that very readily assign causes and effects to seemingly correlative data. Often there's a third factor which is actually the one driving the correlation and when it's removed, there's no correlation at all.
I would be very surprised if the actual study does this. Usually, the studies themselves are more cautious than the headlines.
 
O

Oscurito

One can only imagine the frenzy if the rates increased and anyone dared suggest reversing the laws now or down the road.
Increasing tolerance and acceptance causing suicides....

Do please explain....
 
O

Oscurito

I would be very surprised if the actual study does this. Usually, the studies themselves are more cautious than the headlines.
This is the abstract.

State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts | Adolescent Medicine | JAMA Pediatrics | The JAMA Network

Conclusions and Relevance State same-sex marriage policies were associated with a reduction in the proportion of high school students reporting suicide attempts, providing empirical evidence for an association between same-sex marriage policies and mental health outcomes.

The words "association" and "associated" are used which I suppose are a careful step back from "cause" and "caused by".
 

Mercurial

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This is the abstract.

State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts | Adolescent Medicine | JAMA Pediatrics | The JAMA Network

Conclusions and Relevance State same-sex marriage policies were associated with a reduction in the proportion of high school students reporting suicide attempts, providing empirical evidence for an association between same-sex marriage policies and mental health outcomes.

The words "association" and "associated" are used which I suppose are a careful step back from "cause" and "caused by".
The paper itself also has a section discussing the limitations of the study:

Our study has some limitations. The main outcome is based
on self-report, which is the standardapproach to assessing suicide
attempts, given that a minority of individuals who attempt
suicide present to hospitals and that suicides are rare31
and often underreported.32Theanalysesonthe association between
implementation of same-sex marriage policies and adolescent
suicide attemptsamong those identifying as sexualminorities
should be interpreted with caution given the limited
data availability on sexual orientation (eTables 1 and 2 in the
Supplement) and the potential for same-sex marriage to affect
sexual minority identity.26 We also could not control for unmeasured
individual-level characteristics, including socioeconomic
status, or for unmeasured state characteristics thatmay
change over time, such as religious affiliation or acceptance
of sexual minorities. Finally, our analysis does not allowus to
understand the mechanisms through which implementation
of same-sex marriage policies reduced adolescent suicide attempts.
There is a need for further research to understand the
association between sexual minority rights, stigma, and sexual
minority health.
 

amist4

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Increasing tolerance and acceptance causing suicides....

Do please explain....
Oh, you are bought into the very shabby conclusion after all, you didnt make that clear. That just makes my point more succint.
 
O

Oscurito

Oh, you are bought into the very shabby conclusion after all, you didnt make that clear. That just makes my point more succint.
It's perfectly valid for me to question your point. Sorry, but you don't have any snowflakey immunity to being challenged.
 

amist4

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It's perfectly valid for me to question your point. Sorry, but you don't have any snowflakey immunity to being challenged.
You must have me confused with someone cheering a half baked and self serving conclusion.
 

GDPR

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If there is any co-relation, I would say it is because wider society is becoming more accepting of gay teens not that gay teens are deterred from suicidal ideation because of the existence of laws which recognise gay marriage.

Gay teens are at risk of suicide because they feel isolated and afraid to express their identity. Kids can be rotten little horrors and anyone who is "different" may be bullied intensely, unless the community as a whole makes it clear they wont tolerate this behaviour. Parents also are key figures - if a teen is too scared to tell an obviously homophobic parent they are gay, then that child is in a terrible position.
 
D

Deleted member 17573

The paper itself also has a section discussing the limitations of the study:
And serious limitations they are - yet they go on to say "our analysis does not allow us to understand the mechanisms through which implementation of same-sex marriage policies reduced adolescent suicide attempts".

So they do, in fact, portray the study as having established a causal link between SSM and suicide attempts.
 

Mercurial

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And serious limitations they are - yet they go on to say "our analysis does not allow us to understand the mechanisms through which implementation of same-sex marriage policies reduced adolescent suicide attempts".

So they do, in fact, portray the study as having established a causal link between SSM and suicide attempts.
What makes you describe the limitations as "serious"? (Besides the fact that you're not generally a fan of studies that yield conclusions favourable to gay rights activists)
 
D

Deleted member 17573

What makes you describe the limitations as "serious"? (Besides the fact that you're not generally a fan of studies that yield conclusions favourable to gay rights activists)
Is it not your professional opinion that the limitations were such that the claim of a causal link was not justified?
 
O

Oscurito

If there is any co-relation, I would say it is because wider society is becoming more accepting of gay teens not that gay teens are deterred from suicidal ideation because of the existence of laws which recognise gay marriage.

Gay teens are at risk of suicide because they feel isolated and afraid to express their identity. Kids can be rotten little horrors and anyone who is "different" may be bullied intensely, unless the community as a whole makes it clear they wont tolerate this behaviour. Parents also are key figures - if a teen is too scared to tell an obviously homophobic parent they are gay, then that child is in a terrible position.
Regarding the first paragraph, the study isn't referring to society as a whole. It's specifically referring to reductions in youth suicide rates in those states when same sex marriage was legalized which was significantly greater than those where it wasn't.
 


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