Does Marriage Equality Help Suicide Prevention?

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Suicide rates have dropped in both Denmark and Sweden after same-sex marriage was legalized.

A new study by the Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention and Stockholm University, and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, came forward with this data. According to the Guardian, the two research teams compared suicide rate data between 1989-2002 and 2003-2016. The data followed 28,000 people in same-sex and straight relationships. Between the two periods, researchers found that suicide rates for people in same-sex unions and marriage dropped by 46%. Meanwhile, rates of people in straight couples only dropped 28% in the same time.

“Although suicide rates in the general populations of Denmark and Sweden have been decreasing in recent decades, the rate for those living in same-sex marriage declined at a steeper pace, which has not been noted previously,” the researchers wrote in their reflection of the study. They believe that the legalization of same-sex marriage played a large role in this observed suicide rate decline.

“Being married is protective against suicide,” said lead author Annette Erlangsen to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex civil partnerships. Sweden then followed suit six years later. As for same-sex marriage, it arrived in Sweden first in 2009 and then Denmark in 2012.

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A similar study based on LGBTQ youths found that suicide rates among them dropped when US states started separately passing marriage equality acts.

As researchers of that study wrote:

“Among the 762 678 students who participated in the YRBSS between 1999 and 2015, a weighted 8.6% of all high school students and 28.5% of students who identified as sexual minorities reported suicide attempts before implementation of same-sex marriage policies. Same-sex marriage policies were associated with a 0.6–percentage point (95% CI, –1.2 to –0.01 percentage points) reduction in suicide attempts, representing a 7% relative reduction in the proportion of high school students attempting suicide owing to same-sex marriage implementation. The association was concentrated among students who were sexual minorities.”

So it seems there may be a connection between the legalization of marriage equality and positive outlook on life for LGBTQ people. Who’d have thought?

That said, Erlangsen notes that there is still more needed to be done with suicide prevention.

“Of course, it is positive to see that the suicide rate has almost halved. But it remains worryingly high, especially considering that the suicide rate may be higher among non-married people,” she told the Danish newspaper Information.

Source: The Guardian, Information

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