US study: Gay teen suicide risk higher in conservative areas

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

An American study suggests that attempted suicide rates among gay teenagers are higher in areas considered less liberal.

The research involved more than 32,000 high school students in the state of Oregon.

Lead study author Mark Hatzenbuehler, a Columbia University psychologist, said politically conservative areas had substantially more teenage suicides attempts – both gay and straight.

Higher risk rates were found in areas where schools did not have gay-supportive school programmes.

Mr Hatzenbuehler’s team said that suicide risks among teens who were not bullied or depressed were higher when they lived in areas with relatively few Democrats.

The researchers used numbers of Democrats to calculate how liberal an area was.

The study was published in the journal Paediatrics today.

The US has seen a number of high-profile suicides among LGBT youngsters in the last six months.

One involved a university student who jumped to his death because he believed his roommate had taped him having sex with a man.

Tyler Clementi, who was described as a gifted student, had not told anyone he was gay.

Mr Hatzenbuehler’s team found that roughly 20 per cent of the gay youths they surveyed had attempted suicide, compared with just four per cent of straight teens.

They found that 25 per cent of gay teens in the least liberal counties had tried to kill themselves, compared with 20 per cent in the most liberal areas.