Study: Gay Teen Suicides Higher in Conservative, Republican Areas

A large study by Mark Hatzenbuehler, a Columbia University psychologist and researcher published today in the journal Pediatrics has revealed some teliing, but not all that surprising, statistics, the AP reports:

Oregon Suicide attempts by gay teenagers — and even straight teens — are more common in politically conservative areas that lack school programs supporting gay rights, a study involving nearly 32,000 high school students found.


Hatzenbuehler’s team found a higher rate of suicide attempts even among youths who were not 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.

The study focused mainly on Oregon, and its methods were praised by an Institute of Medicine committee:

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.

There were "relatively few" independents surveyed in the study.


  1. says

    @AJ: Without verified facts, we’re just talking out our asses when we tell people that the right’s anti-gay language kills. With peer reviewed study data, we can walk into school board meetings, congressional hearings and court rooms, point to the data and say “Rethuglicans kill kids” and not easily be ignored.

  2. Jessica Naomi says

    Oregon Department of Education does have sexual orientation protections, The problem is not the lack of protections in the school policies. The problem is that school district administrators and school board refuse to enforce these laws.
    It is a policy of the State Board of Education and a priority of the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) that there will be no discrimination or harassment on the grounds of race, color, sex, marital status, religion, national origin, age, disability or sexual orientation in any educational programs, activities or employment. Persons having questions about equal opportunity and nondiscrimination should contact the State Superintendent of Public Instruction at the Oregon Department of Education, 255 Capitol Street NE, Salem, Oregon 97310; Phone: 503-947-5740; or Fax: 503-378-4772.

  3. ratbastard says

    This was at least partly funded by the Fenway Institute, which is I’m assuming connected to Fenway Community Health in Boston, what is I believe the largest or one of the largest gay oriented healthcare facilities in America. My experience at Fenway Heath center:

    Staff were fine, even though when I checked online reviews It was full of complaints about the staff.

    I never actually saw a MD during the dozen or more visits, only his assistant [not sure what her title is]. She was pleasant and professional.

    I stopped going to Fenway because:

    I was pressured to have expensive tests done [2000. + billed to my insurer] that I know I didn’t need. I had a very common chronic health problem that requires using a common medication, but they refused to continue prescribing me this medication unless I had thousands of dollars of tests done.

    There mental health care geared towards gays also doesn’t accept some common and widely used heathcare plans. Even though I didn’t intend to use these serves, I asked about them, and my [very good and well known] heath insurance plan wasn’t accepted. It was suggested that people whose health insurance wasn’t accepted attend free AA meetings instead!

  4. Francis says

    These areas are more bigoted against gay people obviously, and gay people have fewer resources to go to for help. Also conservative backwaters areas tend to be very uniformed. So anything that goes against the grain is a lot more visible, and therefore much easier to attack. This is also why you see in gay-friendly states, the people who commit hate crimes tend to be inner-city dwellers or former convicts, both of which tend to be more culturally conservative. Social conservatives tend to come together in their hatred of gays and see us as a threat to their societies.

    Is any of this going to change? Probably not, given how religion dominates these societies and their overall ignorance and poor education levels. Also because they tend not to listen to people who aren’t like them because in their eyes, we are all “liberals” and therefore extremists. Unfortunate but very true.

  5. Johnn says

    more evidence that conservatives are evil and that being around them is toxic to health and well-being

  6. roberto says

    In conservative areas many people have a religious agenda that they put before their children. I’m convinced that everything that is said about heroin addicts is also true for religion addicts. You can’t trust them, and the addiction always comes first. Their families suffer similarly too.