Kayla DeLotte

LGBTQ teen suicide rates have fallen since the legalization of gay marriage.

Kayla DeLotte, Reporter

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, a study recently came out that yielded more positive results: suicides are on the decline. The legalization of same-sex marriage is thought to have had a direct effect on the reduced number of suicide attempts reported on teenagers. Overall suicide rates decreased slightly, but researchers found the greatest difference when examining teenagers identifying as a sexual minority. 

LGBTQ - lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer - activists have become prominent in American society over the last two decades . In 2000, attitudes toward this community began to shift, which was evident when Vermont became the first state to recognize civil unions between gays and lesbians.

Since then, gay rights have slowly been granted by more and more states. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its ruling on the Obergefell vs. Hodges case. With a 5-4 decision, the court legalized same-sex marriage and granted them the same rights that opposite-sex married couples have.

The LGBTQ community has struggled to gain acceptance and have been met with overwhelming amounts of adversity. This was evident when looking at the number of attempted suicides in homosexual teens compared to heterosexual statistics. Homosexual students reported a suicide attempt rate of 28.5 percent, while heterosexual students reported that 6 percent had attempted suicide.

“I am completely surprised by the drastic difference of suicide attempts based on sexuality and hope that the LGBTQ community progresses in their movement to gain equal rights,” said Junior Kumayl Sanji. 

Suicide attempt rates between the two are drastic. Overall, suicide rates decreased from 8.6 percent to 8.0 percent in students; however, LGBTQ students saw a decrease from 28.5 percent to 24.5 percent. The study found that this was directly linked to the timeline in which same-sex marriage was legalized for all of the United States. This study only examined students who lived in states where same-sex marriage was not already legalized before June 2015.

“I believe that members of the LGBTQ community feel more accepted and equal to other members of society now that they have the right to marry whom they wish,” said Senior Lauren Smedberg. “When people feel accepted it helps alleviate some of the factors that lead to suicide.”

With suicide being such a large issue among teenagers, society must work to find solutions. Acceptance seems to be a vital step in the positive direction. If every teen felt that they were welcome to be who they were, there’s no telling what improvements could take place.