PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Researchers analyzed data on more than 700,000 high school students and found a 14% drop in suicide attempts among gay high schoolers plus a 7% drop in other teens since same-sex marriage became legal.
More than 26,000 of those surveyed were gay, lesbian or bisexual, but not the transgender community.
The research found declines in states that passed laws allowing gays to marry before the Supreme Court made it legal nationwide. The results don’t prove there’s a connection, but researchers said policymakers should be aware of the measures’ potential benefits for youth mental health.
Stacey Rice, the executive co-director of the Q Center in Portland, said she broke out into a big smile when she heard the results of the survey.
She credits the stats to more compassion and acceptance from others.
“It shows that it’s giving those teens hope to where they don’t have to take that route of taking their own lives,” Rice said.
Suicide is the 2nd-leading cause of death for all US teens, and is much more common for gay, lesbian and bisexual kids.
Rice, who transitioned to a woman nearly 20 years ago, said there have been great advances for trans people. Lately it feels like they’re under attack.
“It could take you to some very dark places, the fact that you are having to fight for your very existence,” she told KOIN 6 News.
On Wednesday, President Trump announced he’s reversing President Obama’s guidelines to allow trans students to choose their bathrooms and locker rooms to what matches their gender identity. But opponents said it violates the safey and privacy of other students.
The White House said Trump wants to leave the decision to the states and school districts.
Rice said, “There’s not been a documented case where a transperson goes into a restroom and assaults someone, so it’s kind of a fear tactic.”
In the meantime, all they can do is remain hopeful for the future and not be afraid to show their true selves.
“Whether it’s one-on-one or however we can do that because, you know, once you get to know a person and know their struggles, no matter what it is and you kinda of like them it’s hard to demonize them.”