The Washington Post is today asking “What leads gay and straight teens to suicide?” Are the influencing factors different? The same? Can we identify broad strokes that increase the suicide rate of teenagers? Well, it turns out that at least one factor is evidently clear. Kids kill themselves in conservative, Republican areas of the country.
Suicide attempts by gay teens — and even straight kids — are more common in politically conservative areas where schools don’t have programs supporting gay rights, a study involving nearly 32,000 high school students found.
Those factors raised the odds and were a substantial influence on suicide attempts even when known risk contributors like depression and being bullied were considered, said study author Mark Hatzenbuehler, a Columbia University psychologist and researcher.
His study found a higher rate of suicide attempts even among kids who weren’t bullied or depressed when they lived in counties less supportive of gays and with relatively few Democrats. A high proportion of Democrats was a measure used as a proxy for a more liberal environment.
Democrats don’t let friends commit suicide, eh? The Study was published this morning in the journal Pediatrics, after the research took place over the past year in the state of Oregon. A sister study of sorts was also recently published by the Institute of Medicine, which focused primarily on gay teen suicide, but found similar results.
The study relied on teens’ self-reporting suicide attempts within the previous year. Roughly 20 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual teens said they had made an attempt, versus 4 percent of straight kids.
The study’s social index rated counties on five measures: prevalence of same-sex couples; registered Democratic voters; liberal views; schools with gay-straight alliances; schools with policies against bullying gay students; and schools with antidiscrimination policies that included sexual orientation.
Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens living in counties with the lowest social index scores were 20 percent more likely to have attempted suicide than gays in counties with the highest index scores. Overall, about 25 percent of gay teens in low-scoring counties had attempted suicide, versus 20 percent of gay teens in high-scoring counties.
Among straight teens, suicide attempts were 9 percent more common in low-scoring counties. There were 1,584 total suicide attempts — 304 of those among gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
Hatzenbuehler said the results show that “environments that are good for gay youth are also healthy for heterosexual youth.”
That being said, it will surely prove to be too much to hope that our Republican majority Congress take note of the facts presented by this study and chill the F out on defending the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. While years of research corroborating what we know to be true, it only takes being a teenager in these areas of the country to tell you that, DUH, “conservative” is just a euphemism for “we don’t like, appreciate, approve of, or accept anything we perceive to be different.”
So now that we know Republican counties have higher suicide rates, what do we do about it?
Via The Washington Post