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FILE - In this Friday, June 26, 2015 file photo, people gather in Washington's Lafayette Park to see the White House illuminated with rainbow colors to mark the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to legalize same-sex marriage. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Researchers found that the legalization of same-sex marriage led to a lower suicide rate


A group of researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University discovered in a new study that students living in states where same-sex marriage was legalized experienced a drop in suicide rates when compared to students living elsewhere, the Washington Post reported.

The study, which was based on self-reported data from more than 750,000 students, didn't intend to explain why the drop had occurred, but authors of the study, however, noted that same-sex marriage was related to a reduction in social stigma.

“Policymakers need to be aware that policies on sexual minority rights can have a real effect on the mental health of adolescents,”  said Julia Raifman, a study author and an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. "We can all agree that reducing adolescent suicide attempts is a good thing, regardless of our political views.”

The study added clarity as to why those belonging to the LGBTQ community are four times more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to commit suicide. 

More than 3.8 million students between 1991 and 2015 responded to the survey, which asked about their diet, sexual behaviors and drug and alcohol use. Of that data, the researchers looked at the responses from 1999 until January 2015--before the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. The data looked at 32 states that legalized same-sex marriage between 2004 and 2015, and 15 states that didn't.

"Overall, 28.5 percent of students who identified as a sexual minority responded that they had attempted suicide one or more times. For heterosexual students, 6 percent responded they had attempted suicide," the Washington Post reported.

The study reiterated that discrimination or stereotyping may play a role in suicide attempts.

“Stigma is one of the most frequently hypothesized risk factors for explaining sexual orientation disparities in suicide outcomes,” wrote Columbia University’s Mark L. Hatzenbuehler in a JAMA Pediatrics editorial accompanying the study.

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