Archive for Monday, April 18, 2011

Study: Teen suicide more likely in conservative areas

April 18, 2011


— Suicide attempts by gay teens — and even straight kids — are more common in politically conservative areas where schools don’t have programs supporting gay rights, a study involving nearly 32,000 high school students found.

Those factors raised the odds and were a substantial influence on suicide attempts even when known risk contributors like depression and being bullied were considered, said study author Mark Hatzenbuehler, a Columbia University psychologist and researcher.

His study found a higher rate of suicide attempts even among kids who weren’t 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 research focused only on the state of Oregon and created a social index to assess which outside factors might contribute to suicidal tendencies. Other teen health experts called it a powerful, novel way to evaluate a tragic social problem.

“Is it surprising? No. Is it important? Yes,” said Dr. Robert Blum of Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The study “takes our relatively superficial knowledge and provides a bit more depth. Clearly, we need lots more understanding, but this is very much a step in the right direction,” he said.

Blum serves on an Institute of Medicine committee that recently released a report urging more research on gay health issues. Blum said the new study is the kind of research the institute believes has been lacking. The independent group advises the government on health matters.

The new study was published online today in the journal Pediatrics.

Previous research has found disproportionately high suicide rates in gay teens. One highly publicized case involved a Rutgers University freshman who jumped off a bridge last year after classmates recorded and broadcast the 18-year-old having sex with a man.

The study relied on teens’ self-reporting suicide attempts within the previous year. Roughly 20 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual teens said they had made an attempt, versus 4 percent of straight kids.

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.

Hatzenbuehler said the results show that “environments that are good for gay youth are also healthy for heterosexual youth.”

The study is based on 2006-08 surveys of 11th-graders that state health officials conducted in Oregon classrooms; Oregon voter registration statistics; Census data on same-sex couples; and public school policies on gays and bullying.

The researchers assessed proportions of Democrats versus Republicans; there were relatively few Independents. Information on non-voters wasn’t examined.


Ray Parker 3 years ago

Homophobia is not the cause of suicides amongst children who commit sodomy, it is shame and remorse. Homosexuals are 2% of the population and commit one third of child rapes and molestations, and distribute a huge amount of child porn. Many of these dangerous perpetrators are minors, and have great reason to be shamed and remorseful. And we have great reason to lock 'em up.


K_Verses_The_World 3 years ago

My so-called friends have fallen under a spell They look me squarely in the eye and they say, “All is well” Can they imagine the darkness that will fall from on high When men will beg God to kill them and they won’t be able to die?

Revelation 9:6 "In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them."


somedude20 3 years ago

"Bought a ticket for a runaway train Like a madman laughin' at the rain Little out of touch, little insane Just easier than dealing with the pain

Runaway train never comin' back Runaway train tearin' up the track Runaway train burnin' in my veins Runaway but it always seems the same"


K_Verses_The_World 3 years ago

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn Suicide remarks are torn From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn Plays wasted words, proves to warn That he not busy being born is busy dying


panzermike007 3 years ago

come on! columbia University? Leftist U? Do you really think this study isn't biased? did tax payers fund this stupid study?


BigPrune 3 years ago

Since the presidential campaigns are gearing up, expect to see a study about how liberals are intelligent and conservatives are stupid - it happens every election cycle.


jonas_opines 3 years ago

It might just be that there are more liberals in places with things to do, natural or man-made, such as the coasts or the mountains or the cities, while conservatives are more in the empty places that don't have jack to do, little scenery, and terrible weather, such as the midwest. :D


DeaconBlue 3 years ago

A study by liberals on conservatives. Cool.

Isn't Columbia University that place where liberals chuckled with Ahmadinejab when he said, No gays in Iran.

Liberals always manufacture intellectual reports that attack conservatives with hateful rhetoric. What are liberals going to intellectually manufacture next? A a report on global warming?


Liberty_One 3 years ago

As unfortunate as conservatives' views on gays and gay marriage are, there are likely other factors at play. It tends to be the case that Christians have lower suicide rates than atheists, and Catholics lower suicide rates than Protestants. What's most likely at issue here is not that Catholicism is the "right" religion, but that people who go to a group meeting on a regular basis (aka church) have more social connections and are less lonely. So people who live in cities have lower suicide rates than rural folks etc. Rural areas tend to be more conservative while urban areas more liberal, which is much more likely to be the source of the difference here.

I cannot find the article on, but every news site that discusses this article mentions it as if it is readily readable.


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