Marriage equality impacting teen attempted suicide rates

Posted at 5:37 PM, Mar 06, 2017

The Supreme Court is sending a case involving a transgender teen back to a lower court. The teen wants to use school restrooms that align with his gender identity. Supporters say a ruling in his favor could impact LGBT teens beyond which bathroom they use. One study found marriage equality laws have already done just that.

For Xander Fager coming out as transgender and embracing it, wasn't an easy journey.

"At the beginning it was a lot of like why me like why do I have to be like this," Fager recalls. "A lot of it is like this self-hate like that hate in society towards and you gear it toward yourself and you begin to hate yourself and think that you are wrong and that you shouldn't exist."

That self-hate pushed Fager to consider ending his life when he was just 12. But luckily he had the support he needed. Now he's supporting other teens, seeing first hand how real the threat of suicide can be.

"I believe most of our youth have at least had the idea some of them have tried to complete suicide," Fager says. "It's just a very big thing."

Attempted suicide is 2 to 7 times more common in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender high school students than it is among their heterosexual peers. But marriage equality be turning those numbers around.

A new study found the number declined immediately in states that adopted same sex marriage laws. In fact, the year after any state made same sex marriage legal, the attempted suicide rate in LGBT teens fell 14 percent below that group's rate of suicide attempts in states that had not legalized same sex marriage.

Rex Fuller works with LGBT teens at the GLBT Community Center Of Colorado

"Many people's beliefs about themselves and how they interact with the world really start when they're very young," Fuller says.

Fuller believes their higher rates of suicide attempts is tied to feeling like they don't belong in society.

"The fact that marriage equality is now a reality is something that really combats that feeling of being an outsider," Fuller says.

Fager says it's an encouraging step in the right direction.

"I believe it shows all the youth now who are a queer and growing up that they can grow up and get married to whoever they want to," Fager says.

Just one Fager says, of many more to go.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents between the ages of 15 and 24 years.