Teen suicide rates down after marriage equality - study

Two gay men celebrate marriage equality (Getty)
Suicide rates dropped in states that allowed gay marriage (Getty)

Allowing same-sex marriage could have saved the lives of thousands of American teens, a new study has found.

Research published on Tuesday (NZ time) shows a link between the introduction of marriage equality laws and a reduction in teen suicide attempts.

Same-sex marriage has been legal US-wide since 2015 thanks to the Supreme Court, but before then it was left up to the states.

The study looked at data from before and after the introduction of same-sex marriage in 32 states, and 15 states which didn't legalise, or outright banned it.

Though it doesn't prove same-sex marriage directly led to a reduction in suicide attempts, there was a definite correlation between its introduction and "a 7 percent reduction in the proportion of all high school students reporting a suicide attempt within the past year".

"The effect of that reduction was concentrated among adolescents who were sexual minorities," the study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, says.

Across the 32 states, that would amount to "more than 134,000 fewer adolescents attempting suicide".

"As countries around the world consider enabling or restricting same-sex marriage, we provide evidence that implementing same-sex marriage policies was associated with improved population health," the study concludes.

"Policymakers should consider the mental health consequences of same-sex marriage policies."

Around 8.6 percent of the 700,000 students the study covered reported attempting suicide. For sexual minorities, the rate was 28.5 percent, before the introduction of same-sex marriage.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call Lifeline on 0800 543 354 or the Suicide Prevention Helpline on 0508 828 865.