Where there’s more support, fewer suicides among gay teens
The study looked at counties in Oregon and developed a composite index of the social environment. It measured for five things: the presence of gay-straight alliances, anti-bullying policies, and anti-discrimination policies in schools. It also took into account the proportion of same-sex couples living in the counties and political leanings.
“It really challenges the myth that there is something inherent about being gay that puts you at risk for suicide risk,” says study author Mark Hatzenbuehler of Columbia University. The study also found that in counties where there were support systems for gay, lesbian and bisexual teens, the suicide rate among heterosexual kids also decreased. “We are showing the social environment plays a role. If we want to reduce suicide attempts we need to take some of these concrete steps towards improving the social environment,” says Hatzenbuehler.