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April 2017

The Influence of State Laws on the Mental Health of Sexual Minority Youth

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York
JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(4):322-324. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.4732

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15 to 24 years.1 Youth who are sexual minorities (ie, those who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual [LGB]; report persistent same-sex attractions; or engage in same-sex sexual behavior) represent one of the groups at highest risk for suicidal ideation and attempts. A review of more than 2 decades of research indicated that LGB youths are between 2 and 7 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.2 Recently released data from the first nationally representative study of LGB high school students indicated that more than 40% of LGB adolescents have seriously considered suicide, and 29% reported having attempted suicide, during the past 12 months (compared with only 15% and 6% of heterosexual adolescents, respectively).3 Identifying the determinants of sexual orientation disparities in suicidality among adolescents therefore represents a significant public health priority.