Fewer kids are attempting suicide. We may have same-sex marriage to thank for it.

Legalizing same-sex marriage in the U.S. may have literally saved American lives.

In a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers at Harvard and John Hopkins universities examined the rate of youth suicide attempts in states before and after same-sex marriage laws. They found legalizing same-sex marriage was associated with a marked decrease in youth suicide attempts.

Before same-sex marriage was legalized, 8.6% of high school students in the study reported a suicide attempt. After, the overall rate dropped by 0.6 percentage point — a 7% decrease. The effect was even higher in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth, who saw a 14% decrease.


The researchers analyzed Centers for Disease Control & Prevention data from over 750,000 self-reported surveys covering a 16-year period between 1999 and 2015, when the Supreme Court legalized marriage in all 50 states. Whether an individual identified as trans was not included in this analysis.

The decrease in suicide attempts was concentrated around the time each state legalized same-sex marriage before the nationwide ruling.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in young people. LGBTQ youth are especially at risk.

It is the second-leading cause of death in people ages 10-24 years, according to the CDC.

Lesbian, gay, and bi youth are four times more likely to have a suicide attempt, according to the study. Trans youth may be at even greater risk.

As to why the numbers dropped, it's possible that legalization communicated to young people that they really are equal.

That's what study leader Julia Raifman told PBS NewsHour.

While the study wasn't designed to get into the nitty-gritty of individual psychologies, we know social stigma can play a big role in a person's mental health. Anti-marriage laws may have represented a kind of structural, state-sponsored stigma in young people's minds.

By legalizing same-sex marriage, the states may have effectively removed that stigma.

Today, though some advocates fear for LGBTQ rights under the new administration, same-sex marriage is the law of the land.

The Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in all states back in 2015. President Trump has promised to uphold this ruling and other LBGTQ rights, but some advocates are still worried about what the new administration and a GOP-controlled Congress will mean.

Nevertheless, no matter what happens, the numbers are hard to argue with. It really does look like this saves lives. In fact, the authors estimated that same-sex marriage will mean 134,000 fewer suicide attempts per year.

“Regardless of political views, I think everyone can agree that reducing adolescent suicide attempts is a good thing,” Raifman said.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Sir David Attenborough has one of the most recognized and beloved voices in the world. The British broadcaster and nature historian has spent most of his 94 years on Earth educating humanity about the wonders of the natural world, inspiring multiple generations to care about the planet we all call home.

And now, Attenborough has made a new name for himself. Not only has he joined the cool kids on Instagram, he's broken the record for reaching a million followers in the shortest period. It only took four hours and 44 minutes, which is less time than it took Jennifer Aniston, who held the title before him at 5 hours and 16 minutes.

A day later, Attenborough is sitting at a whopping 3.4 million followers. And he only has two Instagram posts so far, both of them videos. But just watch his first one and you'll see why he's attracted so many fans.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Schools often have to walk a fine line when it comes to parental complaints. Diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and preferences for what kids see and hear will always mean that schools can't please everyone all the time, so educators have to discern what's best for the whole, broad spectrum of kids in their care.

Sometimes, what's best is hard to discern. Sometimes it's absolutely not.

Such was the case this week when a parent at a St. Louis elementary school complained in a Facebook group about a book that was read to her 7-year-old. The parent wrote:

"Anyone else check out the read a loud book on Canvas for 2nd grade today? Ron's Big Mission was the book that was read out loud to my 7 year old. I caught this after she watched it bc I was working with my 3rd grader. I have called my daughters school. Parents, we have to preview what we are letting the kids see on there."

Keep Reading Show less

One night in 2018, Sheila and Steve Albers took their two youngest sons out to dinner. Their 17-year-old son, John, was in a crabby mood—not an uncommon occurrence for the teen who struggled with mental health issues—so he stayed home.

A half hour later, Sheila's started getting text messages that John wasn't safe. He had posted messages with suicidal ideations on social media and his friends had called the police to check on him. The Albers immediately raced home.

When they got there, they were met with a surreal scene. Their minivan was in the neighbor's yard across the street. John had been shot in the driver's seat six times by a police officer who had arrived to check on him. The officer had fired two shots as the teen slowly backed the van out of the garage, then 11 more after the van spun around backward. But all the officers told the Albers was that John had "passed" and had been shot. They wouldn't find out until the next day who had shot and killed him.

Keep Reading Show less