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:
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.