Mental Health Well-being of Gay and Lesbian Youths

The legalisation of same-sex union in certain US states has been connected with a fall in the amount of gay, lesbian and bisexual teens that attempted to commit suicide, according to a new study.

The study, printed in JAMA Pediatrics (Journal of the American Medical Association), looked into the suicide efforts of sexual minority children in 47 states in the United States. It discovered that out of the 32 states that allowed the same-sex union, there was a seven percent decrease in suicide attempts. We estimated that, annually, same-sex union policies are associated with over 134,000 fewer adolescents attempting to commit suicide.

Julia Raifman, among the writers of the study, stated that the LGBTI community has its own set of health issues, which is “especially true” for teens. A number of the particular “health disparities” include depression, substance abuse, and sexually-transmitted diseases.

She told JAMA that lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers are almost five times as likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.

In the event that you or anyone you know needs assistance:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
  • MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
  • Past Blue on 1300 22 46 36
  • Headspace on 1800 650 890

The information researchers looked at was enormous. It spanned almost 763,000 pupils, 231,000 of whom were diagnosed as a sexual minority.

In the United States, as it is here in Australia, suicide is among the top causes of death among young men and women. According to the journal, almost three out of ten homosexual, bisexual and lesbian teens (aged between 15 and 24) had attempted suicide in 2015, compared to six percent of heterosexual students. For example, the link between depression and gay men is high as the stigma around sexuality remains.

But why is this?

According to the study, it is all about the stigma attached. In other words, denying same-sex couples the right to marry sends a message which they don’t deserve the very same rights as other couples.

The research showed policies preventing same-sex union constitute a type of structural stigma since they tag sexual minorities as distinct and refuse them legal, fiscal, health, and other advantages which are connected with the union.

Media attention and enhanced visibility of sexual minorities, which is connected with an increased social support network often accompany the advocacy for the legalisation of same-sex unions. The study said that same-sex union contributed to the greater acceptance of sexual minorities, which subsequently resulted in a larger feeling of self-worth.

This improved social support, such as a coming out support group, could translate into enhanced peer and behavioural approval of sexual minorities that have been proven to be associated with enhanced mental health.

By comparison, denying same-sex couples the right to marry could have a negative effect on households, as it might result in rejection. The study also discovered that resources dedicated to pushing for the same-sex union by the LGBTI community might be better spent on serving the mental health needs of community members.

Is it the exact same in Australia?

There is no comparison available, as unlike the USA, marriage laws have been dependent on the Commonwealth Government. So states cannot do it alone. (The ACT attempted to legalise it in 2013, but it had been overturned by the High Court, which ascertained that the land could not create its own marriage laws.)

It was found via the Australian National University that LGBTI individuals are not likely to endure any long-term consequences because of their sexual orientation. Dr. Richard Burns analyzed 5,000 individuals over eight years old and discovered that sexual orientation was not a risk factor for long-term emotional health issues.

Childhood sexual trauma, risky health behaviours, smoking, and a lack of positive reinforcement and negative social interactions pose more of a threat to a person’s psychological health than their sexual orientation.

Dr. Burns declared that LGBTI individuals are a lot more likely to encounter those risk factors than heterosexual individuals but stated sexual orientation itself did not pose a threat. Considering all the research we found that there is not any distinct psychological health risk for individuals who have a homosexual or bisexual orientation.