5.28 Local attitudes in Oregon shape risk of suicide attempts among lesbian, gay youths, study shows, OregonLive.com, Apr. 18, 2011
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that the rate of suicide attempts among gay, lesbian or bisexual youth is affected by the local social environment. The researchers scored the social environment in 34 Oregon counties in terms of support for sexual minority youth by taking into account several factors (for example, proportion of same-sex couples and schools with gay-straight alliances). In counties rated as unsupportive, about a quarter of lesbian, gay or bisexual youth attempted suicide, compared to 20 percent in counties rated as supportive. The study doesn’t prove that unsupportive social environments cause suicide attempts. However, the research is noteworthy because it is one of the first studies on the topic that attempts to examine objective measures of social climate rather than reports of perceived hostility and lack of support. The researchers chose to study Oregon because it is the only state that reports statistics on both suicide attempts and sexual orientation at the county level, which made it possible to compare social factors and suicide rates between counties. According to the study, environments that support gay, lesbian and bisexual youth may have benefits for the entire youth population. “We also found that heterosexual youths living in less supportive environments were nine percent more likely to attempt suicide,” said study author Mark Hatzenbuehler of Columbia University. “That suggests that when you create environments supportive for lesbian, gay and bisexual youths, it creates a healthier environment for all youths.”
Read the article at www.oregonlive.com.