Suicide rates have fallen in Sweden and Denmark since gay marriage

Suicide rates have fallen in Sweden and Denmark since gay marriage

A recent study has revealed that suicide rates across both Sweden and Denmark have plummeted since both countries voted to legalize gay marriage.

The research, conducted by the Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention and a team from Stockholm University, compared data from participants in both same-sex and heterosexual relationships between the periods 1989-2002 and 2003-16, and identified a dramatic drop-off.

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According to the results, the number of suicides among people in same-sex unions declined by 46% between the two periods, as opposed to a fall of 28% for those in heterosexual relationships. Around 28,000 people were studied as part of the process, which took place over an 11 year period.

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In its final paragraphs, the study concluded:

“Although suicide rates in the general populations of Denmark and Sweden have been decreasing in recent decades, the rate for those living in same-sex marriage declined at a steeper pace, which has not been noted previously.”

This was echoed by the lead study author Annette Erlangsen, who went further still in saying:

“Being married is protective against suicide...Legalizing same-sex marriage and other supportive legislative measures - they might actually reduce stigma around sexual minorities.” 

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The two countries at the center of the research have historically had a relatively progressive attitude towards same-sex relationships. Denmark was the first country on earth to legalize homosexual civil partnerships, while Sweden followed suit in 1995. The two countries then elected to legalize gay marriage in 2012 and 2009 respectively. 

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However, despite the undoubtedly positive aspects of the study, the research also found that there is a long way still to go. The report also found that gay men and women, whatever their marital status, are still much more likely to take their own life. As Erlangsen told the Danish newspaper Information:

“Of course, it is positive to see that the suicide rate has almost halved. But it remains worryingly high, especially considering that the suicide rate may be higher among non-married people.”