New Publication Finds Inclusive State Legislation May Exert a Protective Effect on Suicidal Behavior Among Sexual Minority Youth

Eleni Vlachos, Christina Aivadyan
August 31, 2021

How does policy impact suicide risk among LGBQ adolescents?

Inclusive State Legislation and Reduced Risk of Past-Year Suicide Attempts Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Adolescents in the United States

Authors: Christina Aivadyan, Melissa N. Slavin, & Elwin Wu

In the United States, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning (LGBQ) adolescents are significantly more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. A new publication examines how suicide attempts among LGBQ adolescents may differ as a function of state legislation relevant to equality for sexual minorities.

In fact, the publication found that "Past-year suicide attempts were substantially lower in states with more inclusive legislation."

Below, first author Christina Aivadyan shared more implications from the study.

What is the significance of this study?  

This study provides initial evidence that state laws and policies relevant to equality for sexual minorities may differentially affect risk for suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning (LGBQ) adolescents in the United States. 

Findings suggest that suicide attempts among LGBQ adolescents are not invariant across context and can change. Inclusive state legislation may exert a protective effect on suicidal behavior among sexual minorities -- specifically, bisexual and questioning males – during adolescence.


What are your reflections on the implications for these findings?

These findings reinforce that identifying as a sexual minority in and of itself is not a risk factor for suicidality; rather, experiences with stigma and discrimination which sexual minorities face may drive disparities in suicide attempts. 

Results also underscore the need for a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention that goes beyond a focus on reducing individual-level risk factors to increase community and societal-level protective factors. Specifically, legislation that supports LGBTQ equality and inclusion. 

Read the publication.

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