A Study Shows That Legalization of Same Sex Marriages is Linked to a Lower Teen Suicide Rate

So there's a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow flag—The legalization of same sex marriage may have reduced the teen suicide rate. In a study published Monday by the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, researchers found suicides decreased in high school students, particularly LGBT students, when a state legalized same sex marriage prior to the Supreme Court decision.

The study collected state high school suicide rates and surveys from 1999 to 2015 and compared the states where same sex marriage was legal to those were it wasn't. For states with legal same sex marriage, the suicide rate among lesbian, gay and bisexual high school students declined 14 percent, while among high school students overall, it declined by 7 percent. States that did not legalize same sex marriage did not see any measurable change in their suicide rates. According to Cosmopolitan, attempts dropped by around 134,000 after same sex marriage was legalized.

Julia Raifman, the lead researcher, said in a press release, "Permitting same-sex marriage reduces structural stigma associated with sexual orientation. There may be something about having equal rights—even if they have no immediate plans to take advantage of them—that makes students feel less stigmatized and more hopeful for the future."

While this is good news and demonstrates how important social reforms are, suicide rates are still rising in the U.S. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people from ages 15 to 24. LGBT people in that age range have an elevated risk for suicide, as well as HIV, depression and substance abuse. The CDC also reported that nearly 40 percent of LGBT students said they had seriously considered suicide. The lead researcher on the Johns Hopkins study, Raifman, believes schools and administrators should call for more attention to LGBT populations because of their high risk for life-threatening health problems. Raifman also called on politicians and public figures to be mindful of the human impact of their policies. "Policymakers need to be aware that policies on sexual minority rights can have a real effect on the mental health of adolescents. The policies at the top can dictate in ways both positive and negative what happens further down," she said in the study's press release.

The Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in June of 2015. Prior to the ruling, same sex marriage was legal in only 35 states, with more recognizing marriages without issuing marriage licenses.